Indus Dolphin Conservation Promotes Eco-Tourism in Pakistan

By Faiza Tehseen

ISLAMABAD, May 16 (INP-WealthPK): Dolphins, an intelligent aqueous species, are a wonderful creation of nature. People take interest in watching wonderful activities of dolphins in waters. Blind dolphin of River Indus is found nowhere else in the world.

Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) has introduced the conservation of Indus dolphin as an important feature of eco-tourism. The community has also been involved in this project.

Managing Director of PTDC Aftabur Rehman Rana said while talking to WealthPK that with the combined efforts of the federal and provincial offices, Pakistan has formed its national tourism strategy for the years 2020 to 2030. It is a multi-segment task consisting of five major aspects i.e., cultural, religious, heritage, adventure and eco-tourism. All these segments will be strengthened with the awareness about a responsible tourism.

The rare dolphins of River Indus are becoming extinct and are in danger because of the domestic and industrial waste. The sound of motor boats disturbs dolphins and they swim away. So, wooden boats rowed by wooden paddles are suggested to be used for viewing dolphins in Indus River. Not any wild or aqueous animal is ready for photo shot. A sense of responsibility is the major aspect to watch them. In a noisy environment, they disappear under the water surface.

To protect Indus dolphins from extinction, involvement of local communities is also important. It has been decided to create awareness among the local residents about the socio-economic benefits of dolphin conservation. They have been told that conservation of dolphins is important so that people continue visiting their areas for dolphins viewing. It helped them generate an extra income.

Many other precautions for the safe sighting of dolphins are also taken. These measures are helping to conserve dolphins especially in Taunsa Barrage located in the area of the South Punjab. Since the year 2000, the number of Indus dolphins has increased to 1,400 from 800. The conservation programs of the government are proving fruitful.

Biological diversity in Pakistan is ideal to promote eco-tourism. The 990km long coast lines, rivers, wet lands and mangroves in Pakistan are ideal features of aqueous-based activities including tourism. The socio-economic based involvement of local communities is the soul of eco-tourism. Conservation of the rare dolphins is generating sustainable livelihood for the people living at coastline of Pakistan.

About 30% of tourists are interested in eco-tourism and this number can be enhanced by adopting different strategic measures. Awareness about responsible tourism and the tourist guide training are the foremost ingredients of this program. One out of every 11 persons is somehow related to tourism/hospitality sector. Development of this sector provides guarantee to create more job opportunities and development of other relevant business activities. A lot of local tourism products can be introduced under the umbrella of eco-tourism which will help engage a good number of local people belonging to the local communities in a lot of socio-economic activities. To ensure best eco-tourism practices in Pakistan, the PTDC has inked an agreement with the World Federation of Tourist Guides. Multiple training programs are designed for this purpose. Relevant material, which consists of picturesque approach more than text, is also published.

Eco-tourism is also an education tourism to teach the tourist guides, tourists and local communities about the environment conservation. Under this umbrella, awareness about multiple types of pollution and litter management is also provided and a sense of responsibility is also developed. So, eco-tourism is a fully designed program not only for biological protection, but also to ensure respect for the local culture and values. Income generated from coastal tourism also contributes to local GDP (gross domestic product) and socio-economic stability.