BHULAN: What’s in a name

"One day, Plato defined humankind as the two-legged animal without feathers. The next day, they say, Diogenes dropped by at the Academy with a plucked chicken".

Known to locals as the bhulan, the Indus susu is today mainly confined to a 100-mile stretch of fresh water between two artificial constructions, the Guddu and the Sukkur barrages, across the lower Indus in the province of Sindh, Pakistan. The bhulan, even more than its neighbour in the Ganga, is threatened with imminent extinction. As is the case with the earth's other three river dolphin species, its fight for survival has not so much to do with adverse natural conditions as with problems manmade. Its diminishing numbers are a result of incidental and intentional exploitation by humans. A survey conducted jointly in 2001 by wwF-Pakistan, the Pakistan government wildlife departments and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society estimated that there are 1100 bhulans left in the Indus waters (see survey map). A total of 965 individuals were actually sighted.

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Himal Southasian