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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ganges River Dolphins : urgent need of quick steps for protection

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Ganges River Dolphin: The most threatened aquatic species in the world
credit- The Bihar Times

With the news of declaration by Ganga River Basin Authority that Ganga river dolphin is given the status of National Aquatic Animal, conservationists are happy and demand quick action in view of Ganga river dolphins’ current ecological status as the world’s most threatened aquatic animal.

The Ganges river dolphin which is scientifically known as Platanista gangetica has been reported to exist in Ganga-Brahmaputra river system from 1500 to 2000 in number. It is due to heavy siltation followed by heavy deforestation along the banks of these rivers and their tributaries, and due to heavy municipal and industrial pollutions that the number of Ganga dolphins has reduced up to half within the last twenty years. Shrinking of habitat due to drying up of tributaries of these rivers causing interrupted water supply have contributed a lot to the threats against dolphins.

The status of Ganges river dolphins is already under survey and study by some national and international organizations. A National River Dolphin Action Plan has already been in existence in India and the only Ganges river dolphin sanctuary in India is located in Vikramshila in Bihar, no considerable effort has ever been taken to maintain their number. The declaration of Ganges river dolphin as National Aquatic Animal is just not enough. The conservation of this species requires protection at known habitations and searching out new locations where Ganges river dolphin is found. The effective protection of species requires planners and conservationists to work together while keeping contacts of local communities inhabiting the river banks so as to make the programme more effective.

The American Cetacean Society reports under The Vikramshila Biodiversity Research and Education Centre(VBREC) - After the declaration of the China's Yangtze River dolphin, Baiji Lipotes vexillifer as functionally extinct (Turvey et al., 2007), the focus shifted now towards strengthening efforts for conserving highly endangered (IUCN, 1996) Ganges river dolphins distributed in the Ganges - Bramhaputra - Meghna, and Karnaphuli - Sangu river systems of South Asia from the base of the Himalayan foothills to the Bay of Bengal. Ganges river dolphins have declined in abundance and in the extent of their range in recent past.In the winter of 2008-2009 ACS Puget Sound helped promote talks by Dr. Sunil K. Choudhary, who was visiting Seattle, and set up a special fund to help support the VBREC's conservation and awareness campaign efforts on behalf of the Ganges river dolphin Platanista gangetica gangetica .In fall 2009 the Ganges river dolphin was declared the aquatic animal of India and its recovery will be used to assess the health of the Ganges river.

Scene of river Ganga at Patna the capital city of Bihar in India

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