Indus Dolphin Boat Safari

The closest known interaction of the river dolphin with humans is with the Indus Boat People, locally known as Mohannas, Keehal or Sheikh, who have been living on this river for centuries. Their large wooden boats drift silently up and down the river all year long using only sails and oars to propel them. These boat people are fishermen, who rely on the fishing contracts and transportation of people living along the Indus for their livelihood. Due to poverty and their non-invasive way of life, they suffer from poor health, illiteracy and low-income status.

The river dolphin, known to these boat people as Bulhan, has been featured in their folklore as a benign and harmless creature. Now these two gentle life forms compete for food and space on the river. Although the fishermen do not proactively conserve the dolphin, they are keenly tuned into its behavior and whereabouts in the river.

The Adventure Foundation of Pakistan (AFP), a non-profit organization, has initiated an Eco-tourism Project with the financial support of GEF/Small Grants programme of UNDP-Pakistan. The project involves training the boat people to run boat safaris in the Indus River. By using their traditional boats, visitors are able to see the dolphins at close quarters and understand this unique animal. The project aims to develop an ecotourism product that protects the threatened Indus dolphin by encouraging the boat people to become the guardians of the dolphin.

Conservationists in Pakistan are aware of some of the commercialized dolphin viewing tours operating in the world that have resulted in adverse impacts on both human and dolphin interactions. There have been cases when invasive tourist practices like feeding and swimming with the dolphins have proven dangerous to both the viewer and the viewed. The AFP promotes dolphin viewing as a non-invasive activity, based on the traditional practices of the boat people. The closest that the visitors get to the Indus dolphin is to listen to the continuous vocalization of the dolphin with a hydrophone placed in the water.

Under this project a small cooperative society of the boat people manages and benefits from the proceeds of the ecotourism activity. The AFP provides technical assistance to the boat people and also helps promote this activity using its close alliances with conservation NGOs such as WWF, IUCN and other tourism promotion organizations. It also encourages these communities to preserve their own traditional way of life and helps promote their off-season activities such as basketry and embroidery. As it establishes itself, the income from the boat safari project is an incentive and reward for the boat people to conserve one of the most unique species living in their world today.

Presidents Message
Dear Venturers,

We enter the thirty first year of our Endeavour in the field of Outdoor Education with pride of accomplishment. Although acknowledgement at the national level is as yet unattained, general awareness is much in evidence. Action oriented outdoor experience has assisted in raising awareness of the younger generation to the vital place of the natural environment in our lives. Through the young people, this will certainly pass on to the older generation in contact with them. Better to understand so much that is talked about climate change and human generated degradation of the environment in which we live.

The foundation is dedicated to provide safe opportunities to discover and equip themselves with hands-on-experience of outdoor living and serve as true friends of the Earth. As they grow they will take on the responsibilities of protecting and preserving Mother Nature and her wonderful web of life that surrounds us all.

We in the foundation will continue to serve our venturers who will lead us eventually towards a better future for themselves and the next generation to come. Have the life moulding adventure that you deserve and may the new year serve you with gladness.

Islamabad
January 2011.
Brig. Muhammad Akram (R)
President
Adventure Foundation Pakistan

 
 
 
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The Adventure Foundation is an independent organization formed to foster the principles of Outward Bound concepts within traditional national educational and recreational programmes. It does this by the promotion of various forms of outdoor activities and thrill sports. The Foundation offers all kinds of people an opportunity to do things and travel the paths of adventure in the great outdoors. Close contact with nature builds up self-confidence through experience
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