Recently, the Jal Shakti Ministry released a guide for the safe rescue and release of stranded Ganges River Dolphins.
The document has been prepared by the Turtle Survival Alliance, India Program and Environment, Forest and Climate Change Department (EFCCD), Uttar Pradesh.
About the Guidelines
- The manual, endorsed by the IUCN Cetacean Specialist Group, has details of identification of the species and on-site and off-site operations. The off-site operations include permit and equipment while on-site involves crowd control, capture and handling, transfer, transport and release.
- The guide was also simultaneously released via local fishermen at the Ghaghra river, a prime habitat where most of the rescued dolphins were released in the past few years.
- Dwindling populations can be attributed to wide-scale habitat degradation from pollution, hydroelectric and development projects and industrial run-off, as well as accidental deaths via entanglement in fishing nets or by villagers from curiosity, opportunistic poaching for meat and oil in certain pockets of the country.
About Ganges River Dolphins
- Scientific Name: Platanista gangetica gangetica
- National Aquatic Animal of India since 2010 & official animal of the Indian city of Guwahati
- IUCN: ‘Endangered’
- Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act (1972)
- Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
- Found throughout the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India and Bangladesh.
- An indicator of healthy aquatic systems
- Only three species of freshwater dolphins are remaining on the earth after the functional extinction of the Chinese river Dolphin (Baiji) in 2006.
- The species, whose global population is estimated at 4,000, are (nearly 80%) found in the Indian subcontinent.
- It is related to the much smaller Indus river dolphin which lives in the Indus River in Pakistan.
- It is also known by the name susu (popular name) and shushuk (Bengali).
- The dolphin does not have a specific mating season.
- The Gangetic Dolphins are generally blind and catch their prey in a unique manner. They emit an ultrasonic sound which reaches the prey. The dolphin then registers this image in its mind and subsequently catches hold of its prey.
- Ganges river dolphins use echolocation to find food. They eat crustaceans such as prawns and fish including carp, mahseer, and even sharks such as the Ganges shark (Glyphis gangeticus).
- A stretch of the Ganges River between Sultanganj and Kahlgaon in Bihar has been declared a dolphin sanctuary and named Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary, the first such protected area.
- On the occasion of the 74th Independence Day, 15 August 2020, the Indian Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change announced ‘Project Dolphin’ to boost conservation of both river and oceanic dolphins.
- Prioritized conservation Area: Upper Ganga River (Brijghat to Narora) in the state of Uttar Pradesh (Proposed Ramsar Site), Chambal River (up to 10 km downstream of Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary) in the state of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, Ghagra and Gandak River, in the state of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, Ganga River, from Varanasi to Patna in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar respectively, Son and Kosi River in Bihar, Brahamaputra River from Sadia (foothills of Arunachal Pradesh) upto the Dhubri (Bangladesh Border), Kulsi River a tributary of Brahamaputra.
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