Related Topics: Environment & Biodiversity, Wildlife Census
- The annual Ganges river dolphin census along about 250-km-long riverine stretch of Upper Ganga between Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary and Narora Ramsar site began in Bijnor.
- It is undertaken by World Wide Fund for Nature-India in collaboration with the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department.
- Last year the census count was 33, including three calves.
- Unlike previous years, when direct counting method was used, this year the tandem boat survey method is being used.
- The method was developed by the renowned river and marine ecologist Gill Braulik and provides a more accurate count of the endangered species.
- The officials use two inflated boats which move in tandem to count the dolphins.
- After collating the data, statistical tools are employed to arrive at the final count.
- In this process, the officials will not announce the number of sightings on a daily basis.
Ganges River Dolphin (Platanista Gangetica)
It is found in parts of the Ganges-Meghna-Brahmaputra and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.
- The main reasons for decline in population of the species are poaching and habitat degradation.
- Dumping of single-use plastic, industrial pollution, fishing and dredging are some of the threats to the dolphins in the region.
- The increase in the number of barrages and dams is also affecting their growth as such structures impede the flow of water.
- It has mythological significance in addition to the tourist attraction.
- It is among the four ‘obligate’ freshwater dolphins in the world.
- Its presence indicates the health of the riverine ecosystem
- The animal is known to make strange sounds when it breathes, earning it the name ‘Susu’.
- Being a mammal, it has to come to the surface to breathe.
- It is called a blind dolphin because it doesn’t have a crystalline eye lens and uses echolocation to navigate and hunt. It is crucial to find prey in the murky waters of the Ganga.
- Like bats, they produce high-frequency sounds which help them to ‘see’ objects when the sound waves bounce off them.
- IUCN Status: Endangered
- It was declared as National Aquatic Animal of India on 10th May 2010.
- It has been included in the Schedule I for the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
- National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) in its efforts of biodiversity conservation in Ganga River basin has been working further on the Ganges River Dolphin Conservation Action Plan
[Source: The Hindu, wwf.panda.org]