Project Dolphin 

#GS3 #Environment #Wildlife #Conservation 

“Exploring the impact of COVID-19 on the ecosystem health of rivers and its dolphin population: Present status and future strategy for conservation in India-Bangladesh-Myanmar-Nepal” a Webinar organised by Inland Fisheries Society of India, ICAR – Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute, National Mission for Clean Ganga , Professional Fisheries Graduates Forum (PFGF) and Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management Society. 

  • Director General, National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), shared his experiences on Dolphin Conservation linking its importance in rejuvenation of the Ganga.  
  • While working on rejuvenation of river Ganga, continuous efforts in the NamamiGange programme to bring Dolphin Conservation to national attention has resulted in the announcement of “Project Dolphin” by the Hon’ble Prime Ministry under MoEF.  
  • This project will be in-line with “Project Tiger” which has successfully helped in increasing tiger population.  
  • However, the most important thing to focus on now is community participation along with scientific interventions.  
  • NamamiGange 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. 

About Gangetic Dolphins 

  • The Gangetic river dolphins can only live in freshwater, are blind and catch their prey in a unique manner, using ultrasonic sound waves. 
  • These dolphins prefer deep waters and, as per WWF, they are distributed across seven states in India: Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. 
  • Their numbers have dwindled in the last few decades mainly because of direct killing, habitat fragmentation by dams and barrages and indiscriminate fishing. 

Protection status 

  • The Gangetic river dolphins were officially discovered in 1801 and are one of the oldest creatures in the world along with some species of turtles, crocodiles and sharks, a/c to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). 
  • They once lived in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh, but are now mostly extinct from many of its early distribution ranges, as per WWF. 
  • In 2009, the Gangetic dolphins were declared India’s National Aquatic animal during the first meeting of the erstwhile National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA). 
  • It is placed under the “endangered” category by the IUCN. 
  • Additionally, the 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”. 
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