Conservation of the Bolivian river dolphin and environmental stewardship by fishers in the upper Mamoré River (Bolivia)
The project “Conservation of the Bolivian river dolphin and environmental stewardship by fishers in the upper Mamoré River (Bolivia)” is a major opportunity to deepen our knowledge on the impact of human actions on freshwater dolphins and their aquatic habitats and to use this knowledge in communication strategies and advocacy.
The present proposal has three objectives: (a) improve the understanding of the relationship between dolphins and habitat, water quality and fish availability; (b) combine traditional research approaches and citizen science to deepen our knowledge and to improve public consciousness on the need to save the dolphin species; © introduce innovative approaches of communication based on citizen science data for influencing municipal policies and environmental responsibility of private enterprises.
The Bolivian river dolphin is an Endangered species. It is vulnerable to external threats due to its small total population size. The species is now fragmented in three isolated populations by the Madeira dams (Brasil). The main current threats, in order of importance, are use as bait in the Calophysus fisheries, contamination (by domestic and agricultural waste), selective logging of the riparian forests (affecting river functioning), deforestation in the headwater river basins (affecting water runoff and the hydrological regime) and Andean dams. The two latter threats are particularly worrying because they can affect river flow and geomorphology, at the long term affecting habitat availability of the dolphins.
Our main goal is to protect Bolivian river dolphin populations and mitigate human impacts in the upper Mamoré river basin, one of the priority watersheds for conservation in the Bolivian Amazon. This goal is pursued through the building of strengthened governance systems and public policies, enabled by combining traditional research, a citizen science approach and an effective communication/advocacy strategy.
The rationale behind the project is the involvement of fishers as citizen scientists participating actively in action and to influencing decision making processes. Through their involvement, they will become more conscious on conservation issues and become stewards of the aquatic habitat on which rely their livelihoods. Moreover, the information they collect has the potential to build a bridge between citizen research and action leading to conservation policies.