In 2005, only about 600 Gangetic dolphins remained in Uttar Pradesh Ganaga and Yamua waters. In a few short days, CM Akhilesh Yadav will announce the latest numbers.
The protection of Gangetic dolphins in the Yamuna at Vrindavan was but one of long list of arguments fueling the battle against the Yamuna flyover at Keshi ghat. The upcoming census findings could either solidify or nullify this claim.
06.09.2012 (Indian Express):
Uttar Pradesh Forest Department and World Wildlife Fund-India launched a three-day census and awareness programme titled ‘My Ganga, My Dolphin’ for Gangetic dolphins on Friday.
The campaign, flagged off by Transport Minister Raja Mahendra Aridaman Singh, is being conducted in a 2,800 kilometre-stretch of the Ganga river and its tributaries, including Yamuna, Son, Ken, Betwa, Ghaghara, and Geruwa.
According to a 1982 estimate, there were 4,000-5,000 Gangetic dolphins in India. Their number declined to about 1,600 in the 2005 estimate, out of which about 600 were in Uttar Pradesh. They have an annual mortality estimate of 130-160. “They are accidentally caught in the nets of fishermen. The fragmentation of rivers due to construction of barrages and dams has also affected their numbers,” said Sandeep Behera, Associate Director, River Basins and Biodiversity, WWF-India.
Other reasons for their decline include indiscriminate fishing, heavy silting of rivers due to deforestation, pollution of the river and habitat destruction, according to the WWF data.
Based on the results of the census, an action plan would be formulated to conserve the dolphins. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav would announce the total number of Gangetic dolphins, which is the national aquatic animal of India, at the end of the campaign on October 7.
Speaking on the occasion, the transport minister said, “It is better late than never. Such an initiative has begun for the first time since Independence. Unplanned development is threatening the ecosystems and this needs to be addressed. It is evident that people living around Ganga want purer and cleaner Ganga.”
The campaign, being assisted by about 18 NGOs, will also aim at increasing awareness among communities around the banks of Ganga. “Never in history has such a comprehensive survey of Gangetic River Dolphin been conducted. We hope the awareness campaign will generate interest amongst various stakeholders and they will come forward to conserve this endangered species,” said Rupak De, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF-Wildlife) of UP.
Commonly known as “Susu” or “Soons,” the Gangetic dolphin is endemic to Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna river systems. It is often known as the “Tiger of the Ganges” as it has the same position in a river ecosystem as that of a tiger in a forest – its presence indicating a healthy river ecosystem.
The mammal is listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and categorised as “endangered” by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and enjoys high levels of legal protection, nationally and internationally.
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