[MARINE_BIOLOGY_INTERNATIONAL] Uttar Pradesh dolphin census holding steady


UP dolphin census throws up a pleasant surprise

DNA / Deepak Gidwani / Monday, October 8, 2012 8:33 IST
The UP forest department (UPFD) is upbeat with the result of its first-ever dolphin census. Experts working on the `My Ganga, My Dolphin' campaign have counted as many as 671 Gangetic river dolphins after covering about 2,800km on the Ganga and its tributaries. UPFD officials said that 18 NGOs were involved in the census carried out by about 150 people on boats over the past three days with the active participation of WWF-India. Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav announced the result of the census here on Sunday. An extensive action plan for dolphin conservation will now be chalked out on the basis of the project report.

"It's definitely a great beginning," gushes state principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife) Rupak De, a renowned conservationist himself. De designed and supervised the entire campaign. He said that about 600 dolphins were estimated to be populating the Ganga way back in 2005 but no methodical census had ever been done. The fact that their numbers have remained stable over the past seven years despite continued attrition due to various reasons is encouraging, he said.

The dolphin, which many might not know is blind, was declared the national aquatic animal on October 5, 2009. The UPFD started its dolphin census to mark its anniversary on Friday and completed it on Sunday.

"With this census, we've established a base line. From here, we need to build a better administrative set-up, inspire political will and garner more funds to conserve this endangered mammal," De said. He is hopeful of `complete' support from the state government since Akhilesh is taking keen interest in the project as he himself is a qualified environmental engineer.

Apart from counting the dolphin, the campaigners also worked on raising awareness among local communities in and around the banks of the Ganga about its conservation and unique role in the eco-system. Experts rue the fact that most fishermen consider the blind mammal their enemy or competitor since it feeds on fish.

The UP census brings good news for conservationists who lament the decline in the Gangetic dolphin's numbers from about 5,000 in 1982 to below 2,000 now (in UP, Bihar and Bengal, states through which the Ganga flows). Dolphins are highly intelligent and are a crucial indicator of the river's health. But their number has steadily declined due to killing by fishermen, building of dams and canals, use of nylon nets in which they get ensnared easily, pollution and habitat destruction.

The dolphin is listed in schedule (I) of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and categorised as `endangered' by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. But their tally has been decreasing despite high levels of legal protection nationally and internationally.

Sandeep Behera, associate director, river basins and biodiversity, WWF-India, says creating awareness among fishermen and villagers inhabiting the river banks and frontline forest department staff is crucial for the mammal's survival. "Its death rate is increasing due to environmental degradation," he adds and points out that their annual mortality is estimated at 130-160.

URL of the article: http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_up-dolphin-census-throws-up-a-pleasant-surprise_1750066-all

Reply via web post Reply to sender Reply to group Start a New Topic Messages in this topic (1)
Recent Activity:



Post a Comment