The Bolivian pink dolphin, an odd-looking animal widely considered to be a subspecies of the boto, will now benefit from new legislation which declares it to be a national treasure, and which completely bans fishing of the species. During a ceremony held along the shores of the Ibare River, Bolivian President Morales called upon the country’s armed forces to protect the pink dolphin’s threatened habitat.
Data Deficient dolphin
The boto is currently listed as Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, due to the fact that there is little available information on its ecology and population numbers. It is also listed under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meaning that international trade in the species should be carefully monitored and regulated.
Local people previously associated botos with bad spirits, which may have played a part in protecting them from persecution, but this unusual dolphin species is currently facing several threats.
Continued development of the Amazon’s river systems and the leaching of mercury from illegal gold mines into the Bolivian pink dolphin’s freshwater habitat are of particular concern. As well as being caught accidentally as bycatch or injured by fishing boats, the Bolivian pink dolphin is known to be deliberately caught and used as bait, and as fish stocks become more and more depleted, local fishermen may view the species as competition.
It is hoped that the new law will go someway to securing a future for the unique and charismatic Bolivian pink dolphin.
Read more on this story at BBC – Bolivia enacts law to protect Amazon pink dolphins.
Find out more about botos on ARKive.
Visit the IUCN SSC Cetacean Specialist Group website to find out more about the conservation of whales, dolphins and porpoises.
Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Species Text Author