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Spout Spotters: Boater Safety Around Whales Online Course Launches

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The Illegal River Dolphin Hunt

WDC has part-funded the creation of an important documentary film about the illegal river dolphin hunt in the Amazon.

The terrible truth behind the cruel and unsustainable boto slaughter is exposed in this documentary produced by the Omacha Foundation and part-funding by WDC:  “The Pulse of the River”. The film shows people in Colombia the real cost of eating the fish.

group of Amazon river dolphins swimming togetherThe biggest threat to river dolphins or botos in the Amazon is man.  The most extreme threat of all is Illegal hunting of botos (mainly in Brazil) for fish bait which began in 2000. Alarmingly illegal boto hunting continues to increase in scope and scale; it is threatening the future of botos and responsible for untold cruelty and brutality.  Those responsible for boto hunting are fishermen living in very poor riverine communities alongside botos; both people and botos are reliant on catching fish to survive. Increasingly botos are seen as pests, competing for dwindling fish catches in the Amazon. Hunting botos for free not only provides valuable fish bait; it also stamps out the competition. 

WDC is seriously concerned about the long term future for botos and the pain and suffering endured by each and every boto killed.  The hunt is incredibly cruel; botos are killed using spears, machetes and knives.  Boto carcasses often show signs of severe physical violence before death.  In some cases botos have been caught and tethered using rope around their tails until they are required for bait.

Piracatinga fish are carnivorous and attracted in large numbers by a boto carcass (bait).  Local fishermen consider eating this rather smelly fish as distasteful and so sell it to traders who export most of it to Colombia. The fish is heavily laden with mercury and people buying it in Colombian supermarkets are unaware of the potential health threats to themselves or the terrible suffering inflicted on botos.