The Gangetic River Dolphins, one of the four only surviving freshwater dolphins of the world, is soon to get more protection, thanks to the conservationists who plan to set up India and Asia’s first dolphin research centre in Patna in Bihar.
The man behind this initiative is RK Sinha, more popularly known as the dolphin man. Sinha has played a pivotal role for many years now in highlighting the depleting number of Ganga river dolphins, or Gangetic dolphins in India and has been working tirelessly for the protection and conservation of the species.
Sinha is the chairperson of the working group for dolphin conservation set up by the central government and said that the planning commission proposed the idea of the research centre which has been approved by the state government.
India’s national aquatic animal
Not many know that Gangetic dolphins are India’s national aquatic animal. They once were found in thousands swimming across Ganga and Brahmaputra and their tributaries. But poaching and habitat destruction have led to decrease in number of the dolphins in the last few decades.
Presently the dolphin population in India is estimated to be merely 2000 with a major chunk present at the Vikramshila Dolphin sanctuary in Bhagalpur distirct of Bihar. Spread across 50 km over the Ganges, the sanctuary is doing well in restoring the population of the unusual blind dolphins.
Gopal Sharma, a scientist with the Zoological Survey of India here, said the centre would carry out research activities on the dolphin and also conduct a census in rivers in Bihar.
Carcasses of the dolphin are regularly found along the river bed. It is believed that poachers kill these mammals for their oil used for fishing and for medicinal purposes.
The Gangetic river dolphin is one of the four freshwater dolphin species in the world. The other three are found in the Yangtze river in China, the Indus river in Pakistan and the Amazon river in South America.
With the research centre, the dolphin’s future might not be extinction after all.