Translocation of trapped Bolivian river dolphins (Inia boliviensis)

Enzo Aliaga-Rossel, Mariana Escobar-Ww

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The Bolivian river dolphin, locally known as the bufeo, is the only cetacean in land-locked Bolivia. Knowledge about its conservation status and vulnerability to anthropogenic actions is extremely deficient. We report on the rescue and translocation of 26 Bolivian river dolphins trapped in a shrinking segment of the Pailas River, Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Several institutions, authorities and volunteers collaborated to translocate the dolphins, which included calves, juveniles, and pregnant females. The dolphins were successfully released into the Río Grande. Each dolphin was accompanied by biologists who assured their welfare. No detectable injuries occurred and none of the dolphins died during this process. If habitat degradation continues, it is likely that events in which river dolphins become trapped in South America may happen more frequently in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-23
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cetacean Research and Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - 10 Sep 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Thanks for the support of Gas Trans Boliviano (GTB), Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Fundación estás Vivo, Omacha Foundation, Foundation SAR (Funsar), people from Seis Hermanos cattle ranch. Special thanks to Ismar Freyre, who alerted us about the bufeos and helped with the capture. Thanks also to V. da Silva (INPA), M. Ruiz-García (Universidad Javeriana), F. Trujillo (Omacha), T. McGuire (LGL Alaska Research Associates), A. Wood (WDC), M. Marmotel (INPA), E. Boede (Deceased 2019; Acuario Valencia-Venezuela), R. Wallace and L. Painter (WCS-Bolivia), L. Saenz and S. Usma (WWF), V. Albarracin, A. Costidis, L. Barret, A. Irvine for their interest, comments, suggestions and collaboration. J. Sarmiento helped with fish identification. Thanks to R. Callau and the Funsar volunteers. Thanks to the volunteers that helped with translocation: R. Alba, O. Callaú, Z. Chavez, L. Guizada, W.A. Montaño, R. Alarcon, F. Aguanta, N., RC Paca, N. Rocha, L. Ortega, M. Amaya, D. Ramos, O. Helming, J. Pinto, M. Castro, B. Manu and H. Montecinos. Thanks to the Santa Cruz Governor R. Costas, and M. Roca, F. Aguilera, H. Martinec, W. Titze from the Government of Santa Cruz. Thanks also to the General Directorate of Biodiversity and all the team that facilitated the actions of all the rescue/translocation team. This manuscript was greatly improved thanks to A. Rudd (Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology), and A. Zerbini. Thank you also to the anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 International Whaling Commission. All rights reserved.


  • Bolivian river dolphin
  • Conservation
  • Habitat degradation
  • South America
  • Strandings
  • Translocation


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