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When recently Google put up a doodle of the Indus River Dolphin as a tribute to Pakistan’s Independence it was amusing to me when Twitter was full of people questioning why a dolphin was doodled instead of Pakistan’s flag, or simply, why a dolphin? What people don’t know is that Bulhan (Indus River Dolphin) is a national mammal of Pakistan.


There are a lot of myths and folktales behind river dolphins, the mysticism of it whimsical and attention-grabbing. The dolphins having a habitat in the Yangtze River of China, are called Baiji. The legend of it being Baiji comes from a myth of a beautiful young girl who escaped from a boat when her stepfather was taking her across the river to sell her. A storm sank the boat, and the girl turned into the river dolphin, traditionally called the Goddess of the Yangtze.

Similarly, the legend of Bulhan isn’t less interesting, with many myths attached to it This one popular story according to the fishermen of the Indus River, there was a saint named “Mango Pir” who had his shrine alongside the bank of the river. A woman used to bring him milk in a copper pitcher. One day when she refused to make the offering to the saint, Mango Pir pushed her into the Indus River in his raging fit and cursed the woman to become a ‘Bulhan’ and wriggle for the rest of her life, doing ‘poosh, poosh’ in the water. The exhaling sound of the Indus dolphin, when it surfaces, symbolizes this ‘poosh, poosh’, a woman’s cry, and the same pitcher in which she brought milk hit her head and causes a supposition that the skull of a Bhullan is similar to a pitcher.

Some Mohannas (the tribal boat people) and fishermen of Indus also consider the Bulhan as the blind mermaid.


It’s reported after scientific research that the Bhulan named Platnista Minor migrated to rivers when the ancient Tethys Sea dried up fifty years ago leaving them to adapt their new lives in the Indus River. Further construction of mirages and dams in 1930’s alarmed more danger of their extinction, until now People around Lahore near river Ravi claim to have seen Bulhan in the 1960’s.

In 2000 when Dolphins completely vanished from Lahore’s zoo premises, they brought Dolphins from Ukraine for entertainment purposes but the mammals died during the COVID-19 pandemic.


The wildlife protection organization focuses on the projects of conservation of these Blind dolphins, saying that the root cause of the loss of biodiversity links with the protection of the Indus River Dolphin with measures in the agricultural and fisheries sector. We as responsible citizens of Pakistan should be aware of the unique wildlife in our country, how they’re endangering at a great level, and how we need to educate ourselves to protect them with whatever capability we own.  

Written By Moazzama Shakeel

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