Capstone Title

The Conservation and Management of the Amazon River Dolphin (Inia geoffrensis) in South America

Defense Date

1996

Document Type

Capstone

Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

First Advisor

Keith Ronald

Second Advisor

Curtis Burney

Abstract

The natural history, ecology, status, and management of the Amazon River Dolphin, Inia geoffrensis, are reviewed in relation to its future conservation. In addition, the protection of I. geoffrensis in national parks and other reserves, as well as applicable laws (both national and international) are reviewed for their effectiveness.

Current populations of the Amazon River Dolphin (I. geoffrensis), are thought to be in good condition. As such, they are listed as "Vulnerable" on Appendix II by the CITES convention and the Red Data Book. However, as a result of the immediate threats that exist on the Amazon and Orinoco River systems, the Amazon River Dolphin should be elevated to Appendix I in CITES where it can be afforded additional protection. Such impending threats include hydroelectric development, habitat degradation due to the deforestation of river-edge flood plains, pollution from agriculture and mining operations, and interactions with commercial fisheries.

Depending upon the particular type of threat, domestic legislation concerning the conservation and management of indigenous populations of Amazon River Dolphins may prove to be inadequate. Existing environmental protection laws may not specifically apply to river dolphins, or may be inadequate to regulate activities that destroy their habitat. River dolphin protection may be increased by passing new legislation or by modifying existing laws and ratifying international treaties. Laws of other countries may serve as useful models for strengthening legislation. For this reason, Inia geoffrensis should be included as a key species in conventions such as the Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CCMSWA) and the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (RAMSAR).

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