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"Scientific Research Key to Our Future Development and Saving Biodiversity" - LUMS SSE and WWF - Pakistan Join Forces to Save the Endangered Indus River Dolphin

27 September, 2010




Lahore, September 27, 2010 – World Wide Fund for Nature - Pakistan (WWF - Pakistan) and the LUMS School of Science and Engineering (SSE) have announced a collaboration to promote joint research activities to help save the endangered Indus River Dolphin. The Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Ali Hasan Habib, Director General of WWF – Pakistan and Dr Ahmad Jan Durrani, Vice Chancellor of LUMS. President Emeritus of WWF – Pakistan and Pro- Chancellor of LUMS, Syed Babar Ali, was also present at the occasion. They were joined by Brig. Mukhtar Ahmed, Vice President Emeritus of WWF – Pakistan.

The Indus River dolphin (Platanista minor) is one of the world's rarest mammals and the second most endangered freshwater river dolphin. Only about 1,600 specimens of this species exist today because of various factors, including water pollution, poaching, fragmentation of habitat due to barrages, and dolphin strandings in the irrigation canals. There is a dire need for the development of sustainable eco-friendly strategies for its conservation and non-invasive studies. For this purpose, electrical engineers at the SSE will be collaborating with WWF - Pakistan to develop mechanisms to help understand this unique species better and prevent its extinction.

WWF - Pakistan has been dedicated to dolphin conservation for over a decade.  In addition to efforts to conserve their habitat, including addressing problems such as river pollution, WWF - Pakistan has also been involved in rescue missions and in educating the local fishermen community regarding better fishing practices. The SSE will provide the required technical support to the conservation efforts of WWF - Pakistan. Dr. Abubakr Muhammad, head of the research laboratory for Cyber Physical Networks and Systems (CYPHYNETS) at SSE described how the SSE will use  hydrophones (devices that records underwater sounds) and will develop automated acoustic observation systems to study dolphin vocalizations. He said “These systems, based on the submarine sonar principle, will help in providing information on the exact dolphin numbers in small pools within the river, in individual recognition of dolphins and will also assist in unveiling information of their behaviours and social interactions. Additionally, this study will compare the acoustics of the Indus Dolphin with other closely related dolphins such as the Ganges dolphin.”

Speaking at the occasion, Syed Babar Ali commended the progressive efforts WWF – Pakistan and LUMS SSE have shown to find new and meaningful ways of putting education and scientific research to practical use. “There is no limit to what this partnership can achieve,” he said. “This will not only help us save the Indus Dolphin, but will raise sensitivity and awareness amongst the students and the general public about nature and its creatures.”

The collaboration between and WWF and LUMS-SSE would be the first step towards an empirical and scientific study of the Indus River Dolphin using state-of-the-art technology. The aim is to publicize the findings of this project to help raise awareness regarding the plight of the Indus River Dolphin in particular; and understanding the complex relationship between human activity and Indus River ecosystem quality in general.

 About WWF - Pakistan
World Wide Fund for Nature - Pakistan was formed in 1970 to address the growing environmental and conservation issues in Pakistan that not only affected the flora and fauna, but were also affecting the human population. WWF – Pakistan is a non-profit organisation, working to preserve, conserve and save our environment and natural resources. Today, WWF - Pakistan works through 31 offices with a team of approximately 340 dedicated staff members. We have our Head Office in Lahore, regional offices in Karachi, Islamabad, Peshawar, Gilgit, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Quetta, and project offices wherever there is need and the potential to make a difference.

 

About LUMS SSE
LUMS School of Science & Engineering is the first private research enterprise for science and engineering in Pakistan. It aims to create an environment in Pakistan at par with the best research universities in the world. LUMS-SSE was launched in 2008. It offers undergraduate degrees in Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Physics; and graduate degrees in Computer Engineering, Computer Science and Mathematics. The mission of LUMS-SSE is to create knowledge through the high quality research of its faculty; to produce excellent graduates that are problem solvers, not mere technicians; and to create opportunity through its generous financial aid, ensuring that quality education is provided to all deserving students rather than a privileged few.

 

For further information:

Nuzhat Saadia Siddiqi
Coordinator, Press & Media Relations
0305 471 5120
nsaadia@wwf.org.pk