PMNH, UNESCO striving to conserve Indus river dolphins


ISLAMABAD: A one-year project for the conservation of endangered blind dolphins in Indus water has been initiated by Pakistan Museum of Natural History (PMNH) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Speaking about the project, PMNH Director General Dr Muhammad Rafique said that the Indus river dolphins were an endangered species found in Pakistan and a joint effort had been launched to preserve them. The project was launched in January this year and is scheduled to finish in December, with an allocation of Rs 2.5 million. The timeline of the project may be extended if needed, he informed.

He highlighted that there were only four to five hundred dolphins of the rare species left when PMNH raised the issue and contacted UNESCO for funding and technical assistance to launch the project.

He said that PMNH had also worked with Capital Development Authority (CDA) on a project aimed at beautifying Islamabad, and their joint efforts have revealed wood chopping and wood extraction as the major threats to its beauty. Wood chopping causes a number of environmental problems including noise, air and dust pollution, Rafique said. He added that in the past, stone crushing had also been a major concern but it has now been controlled.

The director further said that PMNH facilitated research students of various universities under Higher Education Commission to explore nature and complete their projects. There are over 40 PhD scholars at PMNH and each of them is working on a separate, specialised project, he said.

Moreover, researchers at PMNH share their research, which they conduct in well-equipped laboratories of the museum, with scientists from other countries, and a mutual exchange of scholars and technology constantly takes place, Rafique said.

He expressed hope that such efforts would go long ways not only in reducing the costs of their projects but also in achieving better results within stipulated deadlines.


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