About Ganges River Dolphin
- The Ganges river dolphin (Platanista gangetica gangetica) is one of the five river dolphins found in the world. The species is found in the Ganga and Brahmaputra river basins of India, Nepal and Bangladesh.
- They feed majorly on fish, but are blind. Instead they use echolocation to detect food and navigate, and, to a very small extent, communication.
- In 2009, the government declared the Ganges river dolphin as the National aquatic animal.
- Despite being a protected species under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, its numbers had dwindled over the last century due to indiscriminate fishing, poaching and development of barrages and dams along with the habitat of the dolphins.
- Their population is estimated to be less than 2000 individuals. At present, the distribution range of the Ganges river dolphins in India covers seven states namely, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
- Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary, located in Bihar, is dedicated to the conservation of the species.
- Protection Status: IUCN Red List: Endangered; CITES: Appendix I; Wildlife Protection Act (1972): Schedule I.
Why in news?
- The Jal Shakti Ministry has released a guide for the safe rescue and release of stranded Ganges river dolphins.
- The document has been prepared by the Turtle Survival Alliance and the Environment, Forest and Climate Change Department (EFCCD) of the Uttar Pradesh Government.
News in detail
- The guide has been drawn from years of experience of rescuing 25 Ganges river dolphins stranded in irrigation canals.
- Best practices on crowd control, dolphin capture from canals and handling, transfer, transport and release are part of the guide.
- 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.