Ganges River Dolphin in dire straits: IUCN

Last Updated: Monday, July 20, 2009 - 14:47

Dubai: Dolphin hotspots must be protected
if the Ganges River Dolphin is to survive in the Brahmaputra
river system, a recent study has revealed.

Estimates have put the total population of the Ganges
River Dolphins at around 2,000 globally. Out of these, between
240 to 300 inhabit the Brahmaputra River system in India, the
survey conducted by Sir Peter Scott Fund project of
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has

The survey concentrated on the 1,044 km stretch of
dolphin-inhabited Brahmaputra River system, primarily in Assam
of North East India.

"Our research shows accidental killing through fisheries
by-catch, followed by poaching for oil, are the major threats
to the dolphins of the Brahmaputra river system," says Project
leader Abdul Wakid.

"Their habitat is also being degraded by human activities.
Dam building and a proposed seismic survey in the Brahmaputra
river are potential threats," an IUCN release said.

The project, funded by Foundation Ensemble, was prompted
by the need for some robust dolphin population data after Oil
India Ltd. proposed to start prospecting for oil along the bed
of the Brahmaputra River using air guns and explosives.

The Ganges River Dolphin is found mainly in the Ganges and
Brahmaputra river systems in India and Bangladesh.

The research identified eight river sections as potential
protected areas and community-based dolphin conservation as
the best strategy to save the dolphins.

"The Brahmaputra River is very important habitat for
these endangered dolphins," says Gill Braulik, of IUCN`s
Cetacean Specialist Group.

"To protect them it is vital that we involve local river
communities. In some places, like in the Kukurmara area of
Kulsi River, for example, the dolphins are a tourist
attraction due to protection by local communities. But in
other areas, dolphins are accidentally killed in fishing nets
or are sometimes deliberately caught and killed for their
oil," he added.

The project carried out 32 awareness campaigns along the
Brahmaputra valley, focusing on fishing communities in areas
surrounding dolphin hotspots.

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First Published: Monday, July 20, 2009 - 14:47

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