The recent devastating news of over 150 (and counting) dolphins found dead in the Amazon in Lake Tefé, Brazil and a record drought from a historic El Niño season has shed new light on the urgent need for international collaboration to prevent further decline of the river dolphin population in the Amazon and across the world.
Representatives from the 14 countries that are home to the world’s populations of river dolphins, came together on October 23 and 24 for the Global Declaration of River Dolphins and their Rivers convening. Eleven countries signed a first-of-its-kind global declaration for the protection of river dolphins by 2030. These countries committed to creating transboundary research-driven solutions and recommendations for mitigating threats facing river dolphins and the formation of a global coalition made up of NGOs, scientific research institutions, and foundations to implement the declaration and focus on securing the long-term future of river dolphins, their river habitats, and the communities who depend on those rivers.
National Geographic Explorers Mariana Frias, Fernando Trujillo and Jimena Valderrama were all key participants at the convening held in Bogotá, Colombia where they joined other experts, ministers and senior officials from South American and Asian countries where river dolphins inhabit.
They’ve issued the following statements and are available for interviews:
Mariana Frias, National Geographic Explorer and conservation specialist said:
“We must act now to establish transboundary and global protection orders for aquatic life sustainability. The most effective strategies come from collaborative efforts across communities and countries, with this declaration and coalition we can co-create agreements, policies and practices to generate wide-spread change.”
Fernando Trujillo, National Geographic Explorer and marine biologist and river dolphin expert with more than 30 years of experience researching the Amazon river dolphins of South America said:
“Dolphins are the ‘ambassadors of the Amazon.’ As they move across bodies of water they demonstrate the importance of freshwater conservation and the impact climate change has on all these river basins. This very same water enriches the environment, the soil and impacts the lives of the millions of people who surround it. Collaborative, global initiatives like the declaration and coalition are necessary to better mitigate the threats dolphins and the riverine communities face.”
Jimena Valderrama, National Geographic Explorer and wildlife veterinarian said:
“The Unique Mortality Event of over 150 dolphins dying in Lake Tefé was heartbreaking, but also shines a spotlight on the very real impact of climate change on the rivers and riverine communities and should galvanize the conservation efforts of the entire basin.”
Frias, Trujillo and Valderrama are working in South America to better understand the impacts of climate and environmental change in the Amazon and develop solutions to ensure the survival of river dolphins and other aquatic mammals as part of the National Geographic and Rolex Perpetual Planet Amazon Expedition, a multi-year scientific and storytelling exploration of the Amazon River Basin.
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Senior Manager, Impact Communications