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Skin Marks on the Indus River Dolphin (Platanista minor) and their Implications for Conservation

Skin Marks on the Indus River Dolphin (Platanista minor) and their Implications for Conservation

Aamir Ibrahim1, Bingyao Chen1, Hassan Ali2, Imran Ali3, Yang Cao1 and Guang Yang1*

1Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Biodiversity and Biotechnology, College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Wenyuan Road 1, Qixia District, Nanjing 210023, China.
2Punjab Wildlife and Parks Department, Punjab, Pakistan.
3Center for GIS, University of the Punjab, Lahore 54000, Pakistan.
*      Corresponding author:


The Indus River dolphin (Platanista minor) is an endangered species found in the Indus River system of Pakistan including Beas River in India which is a part of Indus River system, enlisted in Appendix I of CITES Red List of threatened species. Currently, the whole population across the Indus River in Pakistan is divided into four subpopulations. Although photo-identification efforts on freshwater dolphins were successfully made on the Irrawady dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris) in South Asia, Baiji (Lipotes vexillifer) in the Yangtze River of China, and the Amazon River dolphin (Inia geoffrensis) in South America, it is very difficult to take photographs of Indus river dolphin. From March 1 to 9 in 2019, a survey was conducted in the area covered in a branch of approximately 70 km of the Indus River from Taunsa barrage (District Muzaffargarh, Tehsil Kott Addu) to just downstream of Ghazi Ghat near Samina (District Dera Ghazi Khan) in Punjab, Pakistan. We successfully photographed and first reported seven types of skin marks originated from their natural or social interactions and anthropogenic activities. Dead bodies of five calves were collected from two different subpopulations in the Punjab river section, two from the Chashma-Taunsa and three from the Taunsa-Guddu barrage. Illegal hunting of Indus river dolphin and utilization of blubber in upstream areas of Punjab is still in practice. Anthropogenic threats are needed to be evaluated for long-term conservation of this endangered species to reduce conflict and mortality in areas where fishing is under practice.

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Pakistan Journal of Zoology


Pakistan J. Zool., Vol. 56, Iss. 3, pp. 1001-1500


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