Conserving Indus River Dolphin through Ecotourism
The project “Conservation of Indus River Dolphin through Community based Ecotourism” is an innovative initiative of STFP which has fostered community-based stewardship for the conservation of the world’s most endangered river dolphin “Bulhan” which is endemic to River Indus by providing alternate source of income to the poor fishermen community through ecotourism.
The Indus River dolphin (Platanista minor) which is locally known as Bulhan occurs only in the Indus River in Pakistan. Historically these dolphins were found in large number right from the Indus estuary up into the foothills of the Himalayas but now the current population of Bulhan in Indus River is just around 1400 which is not very healthy number for the survival of any wild animal species due to which it is listed as an “Endangered Species” by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).
The project “Conservation of Indus River Dolphin through Community based Ecotourism” is working to create awareness about the protection of Bulhan among the local fisher communities, concerned stakeholders and general public to minimize the threats through mass awareness campaign and tourism. Through local community involvement the project has fostered community-based stewardship for the conservation of Bulhan in the area of Taunsa Barrage on River Indus, providing alternate source of income to the fishermen through ecotourism. Under the project efforts have been made to build the capacity of selected local community members to establish an ecotourism enterprise and improve their services and skills to deal with nature loving tourists who come for dolphin watching, bird watching tours and having unique experience of rural life of South Punjab in organized small groups from main cities of Pakistan and from abroad. The project has very successfully created an effective link between the conservation of an endangered river dolphin species and local community well-being through the use of ecotourism as a tool.