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WWF moots adoption of Indus dolphins

AMRITSAR: World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has mooted a plan of giving "ownership" of rareIndus dolphins to the residents of villages situated along the Beas. The endangered fresh water Indus dolphins (platanista minor) are found in the 75-km stretch of Beas and parts of Harike Wildlife Sanctuary surrounded by Tarn Taran, Kapurthala and Ferozepur districts. 

According to Gunbir Singh, chairman of the Punjab chapter of WWF, apart from awareness and taking pride in the presence of unique mammals in their vicinity, the villagers should also derive some economic advantage from the initiative. 

"For this purpose we have planned to give a feeling of ownership of dolphins to the villagers by promoting soft tourism. We aim is to encourage home stays for tourists that will motivate villagers towards conservation of dolphins," said Gunbir. 

He also stated that the federation was preparing a proposal that would be submitted to the state government to take collaborative steps for the conservation of dolphins and promotion of "soft tourism". Singh added that WWF alone couldn't work on the conservation of dolphins and needed collaboration from the government as it required involvement of various state departments. 

He said since there couldn't be any infrastructural development like construction of hotels in the sanctuary area, the concept of home stays could be encouraged, enabling the tourists to put up in the villages that have the possibility of dolphin sightings. 

Encouraged by the sighting of 12 dolphins in the recent past, the chairman of WWF (Punjab) puts the estimated number of dolphins in the Beas and Harike Wildlife Sanctuary between 24 and 30. He also said that dolphin calves had also been spotted indicating that the dolphins were multiplying.

The Times of India (13-09-2013)