April Flowers for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Bolivia’s only freshwater mammal – the pink river dolphin – is at risk, and now President Evo Morales has enacted a law aimed at protecting the unique animal.
The Bolivian pink dolphin (Inia boliviensis) is similar to river dolphins found in neighboring Brazil, Peru, Columbia and Venezuela. Some scientists consider the two types of Amazon river dolphins as subsets of the same species. They are often actually pink and can weigh 65 to 90 pounds.
The Bolivian pink dolphin sports a long, curved beak and uses echolocation to hunt down its prey. The animal is known to have powerful jaws with teeth proficient at crushing fish. The dolphin feeds on crustaceans, crabs, small turtles, catfish, piranha and shrimp. After killing its meal, the dolphin swallows its prey whole and regurgitates its bones later.
The new laws ban fishing, encourage programs to protect the dolphin and declare the pink dolphin a national treasure. President Morales announced this law standing on the banks of the Ibare River, calling on the armed forces to protect the habitats of the dolphin.
The biggest threats to the dolphin, known locally as “boto,” are erosion, pollution and logging in the Amazon region. An appendix to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) says the species is vulnerable because of overfishing in the Amazon basin.
But the appendix says the main threat is the contamination of rivers in the region by mercury, used in illegal gold mining operations.
Evo Morales is the 80th President of Bolivia and is the leader of the nation’s socialist party. Morales has taken on an outspoken role in international climate negotiations, arguing from an indigenous perspective for greater respect for “Mother Earth.”
Bolivia’s “bolo” legislation is just the latest in wider environmentally conscious agenda.