Engro Foundation becomes largest supporter of Indus River dolphins

ISLAMABAD, Mar 16 (Alliance News):World Wildlife Fund (WWF-Pakistan) and Engro Foundation has entered into a first-of-its-kind partnership for the conservation and management of the endangered Indus River dolphins.

The project would focus on the core habitat of the 500 km (approximate) Indus River stretch between Taunsa and Sukkur barrages, said a news release.

This stretch is a habitat of approximately 1,800 Indus River dolphins and overlaps with the Indus Flyway, which is a globally important route of migratory birds.

The area has immense ecological and cultural significance as the Guddu-Sukkur stretch is a protected area, Indus Dolphin Reserve, and was declared a Ramsar wetland under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and Key Biodiversity Area (KBA).

Similarly, the Taunsa – Guddu River section is home to the second-largest Indus dolphin population of 660 individuals.
The selected project area supports 90 per cent population of the Indus River dolphin, eight species of freshwater turtles, smooth-coated otters, hog deer and fishing cats.

The project area and the adjoining wetlands support many endangered and threatened migratory birds as well. Considering that the Indus River dolphin is the top predator and keystone species of the river, saving and protecting it will support the conservation of the other important species including migratory birds and freshwater turtles.

As part of the project, Engro Foundation along with WWF-Pakistan would work towards protection, conservation and management for the viable population of the Indus River dolphin and its habitat, using internationally developed and tested tools and technological advancements.

The partners would also be undertaking a comprehensive dolphin survey, along with awareness and outreach efforts to foster commitment from the government, communities, and other stakeholders, to achieve the desired project outcomes.

Moreover, the project aims to create a strong relationship of the citizens (communities, civil society, students, teachers and youth) with the Indus River and its associated biodiversity through monitoring of the river’s health parameters and biodiversity (dolphins, turtles, migratory birds).

The project will help diversify the existing livelihoods of the fisherfolk and other indigenous wetlands-dependent communities to reduce pressure from the riverine resources.

Director General, WWF-Pakistan Hammad Naqi Khan said “Engro Foundation’s support to the Indus River dolphin fits in with the global priorities for the conservation of river dolphins agreed in the Global River Dolphin Strategy. Owning a species that is endemic to the Indus River system is our responsibility because only we can conserve it. It is an iconic and powerful species of the freshwater ecosystem which helps in conveying a strong message that rivers are alive, and are not resources to exploit.”

President and CEO Engro Corporation and Trustee of Engro Foundation, Ghias Khan said “The Indus River dolphin, which is seen as a part of Pakistan’s heritage, is, unfortunately, facing an existential threat. As a socially responsible business that is committed to helping solve some of the pressing issues of Pakistan, we are excited to partner with WWF-Pakistan for this unique project.

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