Focus: GS-III Environment and Ecology
Why in news?
In a webinar organised by Inland Fisheries Society of India, ICAR, NMCG etc., experts from India – Bangladesh – Nepal and Myanmar come together for enhancing conservation of river Dolphins in the region pavingway for regional cooperation.
- River Dolphins a unique species found mainly in rivers of Asia and South America are vanishing rapidly.
- Gangetic Dolphin, the national aquatic animal of India has been declared endangered by International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
- This webinar was organised to discuss the future strategy to conserve and revive these Dolphins with regional cooperation.
- Sunderban delta is a unique ecological space where Gangetic as well as Irrawaddy Dolphin are present, spread over India as well as Bangladesh.
- While working on rejuvenation of river Ganga, continuous efforts in the Namami Gange programme to bring Dolphin Conservation to national attention has resulted in the announcement of “Project Dolphin” by the Prime Minister.
- The most important thing to focus on now is community participation along with scientific interventions.
- Namami Gange has given importance to biodiversity and ecological improvement along with pollution abatement and projects have been taken up for improvement of fisheries with CIFRI and for biodiversity conservation with Wildlife Institute of India (WII).
- Under this framework, this is a first of its kind occasion where the fishery sector is leading the Dolphin Conservation discourse.
Fishermen and Dolphins
- Fishery conservation efforts under Namami Gange through CIFRI would improve prey base in Dolphin habitat leading to enhanced Dolphin population.
- Livelihood improvement of fishermen to help them join conservation efforts.
- Coordinated approach needed for synergising transboundary efforts and to develop a regional program.
- Small habitats in North East Rivers need special study for local propagation or translocation.
- Dolphin education for students, community engagement and improving overall awareness.
- Latest under water acoustic methodology to be applied for Dolphin census.
- E-flow assessment and implementation from biodiversity point of view.
Other Steps taken to protect Dolphins
- Setting up of the Conservation Action Plan for the Gangetic Dolphin (2010-2020), which has identified threats to Gangetic dolphins and impact of river traffic, irrigation canals and depletion of prey-base on dolphin populations.
- Gangetic dolphins have been included in Schedule -I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, which means they have the highest degree of protection against hunting.
- They are also one among the 21 species identified under the centrally sponsored scheme, “Development of Wildlife Habitat”.
Threats to Gangetic river dolphin
- Pollution: It faces a number of threats such as dumping of single-use plastics in water bodies, industrial pollution, and fishing.
- Restrictive Flow of Water: The increase in the number of barrages and dams is also affecting their growth as such structures impede the flow of water.
- Poaching: Dolphins are also poached for their flesh, fat, and oil, which is used as a prey to catch fish, as an ointment and as a supposed aphrodisiac.
- Shipping & Dredging: It is also called a blind dolphin because it doesn’t have an eye lens and uses echolocation to navigate and hunt.