A partnership to conserve the endangered Indus River dolphin in the Beas Conservation Reserve has been announced by DCB Bank and WWF-India. Working with the Department of Forests and Wildlife Preservation (DFWP), Government of Punjab, the two organisations will implement initiatives on education, awareness and community-led conservation to protect the species and its habitat and ensure conservation measures for its long-term survival.

Local institutions will spearhead the conservation efforts for the species and work with farmers living in villages on the river bank to reduce input use (water, chemical fertilisers, pesticides) in their farms. WWF-India will also implement its Water School Programme in 30 schools in four districts along the Beas Conservation Reserve to build awareness among students on the need for conservation of natural resources.

Dolphins are an indicator species of healthy river systems. India has two freshwater dolphin species: the Gangetic River dolphin and the Indus River dolphin, sub-species of the South Asian river dolphin. Indus River dolphins are found in the Indus River system and the river Beas is their only habitat in the country. The river dolphin is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

WWF-India has been working with DFWP towards conservation of the Harike Wetland since 2007. In 2007, a survey was conducted in Beas River by the same department which established the presence of the Indus River dolphin. Taking this forward, monthly dolphin surveys will be carried out to establish occurrence and population status along with habitat-conservation measures. WWF-India will also work closely with government authorities to devise a strategy for long-term conservation of the species.

CB’s questions on whether wildlife conservation is a key CSR focus area for DCB Bank and its contribution to this project, duration and goals, and assessment of potential outcomes received no response from the organisations concerned.