Fishing threatens Amazon River dolphin existence
The future of the Amazon River dolphin is under threat as increasing numbers of fishermen target the species for bait.
Inia geoffrensis, or “botos" as they are known in Brazil, are regarded as the most intelligent of the five freshwater species in the world. However, they are also fearless and inquisitive, which makes them an easy target for fisherman.
As such, larger numbers of the animals’ carcasses are turning up on the riverbanks of the Amazon with flesh torn from the body - people are killing them in order to use the meat as bait.
Because of its firm consistency, strong smell and abundant grease, boto flesh is considered very effective bait for fishing piracatinga, a scavenger fish which sells for between US$0.50 and US$1 depending on the season.
It is estimated that over one tonne of piracatinga can be caught in three hours using bait sourced from the carcass of one large adult boto.
Amazon River dolphins are notoriously playful
Researchers are concerned that the population of the river dolphins will collapse if the fishermen are not stopped and the cull countered.
Amazon River dolphins, which have a brain capacity 40% larger than humans, are easily recognisable, with their bright pink colour offering a stark contrast to the murky waters of the Amazon.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRANCO BANFI/www.banfi.ch