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South American dolphin survey wraps up in Bolivia


Santa Cruz, Bolivia – South America’s first-ever river dolphin census through the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers and its tributaries has come to an end.

In the last 600km stretch along the Itenez River in Bolivia, scientists — led by the Faunagua Foundation (Bolivia) and Omacha Foundation (Colombia), with support from WWF, the Wildlife Conservation Society and Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society — counted 941 pink river dolphins.

During the 14-month, 3,145km-long expedition, researchers not only spent long hours counting dolphins, but checked on the state of the rivers. River pollution, deforestation, indiscriminate capture and incidental fishing are some of the factors affecting the South American river dolphins, the two pink river dolphin species (Inia geoffrensis and Inia boliviensis), also known as the boto, as well as the grey river dolphin (Sotalia fluviatilis).

The boto is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

“We have successfully completed the first South American dolphin river census and we are satisfied with all the data collected and what we witnessed,” said Saulo Usma, WWF-Colombia’s Freshwater Coordinator.

In previous legs of the expedition the team recorded: 485 in Bolvia (June 2007); 520 dolphins in the Colombian Amazon (March 2007); 818 in Peru (September 2006); 131 on Colombia’s Meta River (August 2006); 40 in Ecuador (July 2006); and 270 dolphins in Venezuela (June 2006).

The survey expedition, which consists of scientists from Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela, started in May 2006 in the Venezuelan city of Ciudad Bolivar.

“The census is just an initial phase towards protecting pink and grey dolphins in the Orinoco and Amazon Basins,” Usma added.

“Now we have to take the data we gathered and translate it into an effective conservation strategy to preserve the species and its river habitat.”


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