Gangetic dolphins census report

The numbers of the Gangetic dolphins in Uttar Pradesh have registered an increase, reveals the latest dolphin census report. The dolphin numbers have risen from 600, counted in 2005, to 671. The three-day and the first biggest single census of the Gangetic river dolphins was held by the state forest department, WWF-India and 18 other NGOs. .

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Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav praised the efforts being taken to conserve the Gangetic dolphins through “My Ganga, My Dolphin” campaign. “I would like to share that my government, along with focusing on preserving the environment, is also consistently working towards conserving the wildlife.

It’s not the number which is important, but the properly and scientifically done census which is significant.  The conservation efforts which led to increase in the dolphin population in some stretches will be followed at other places too.

The census has provided the first baseline data on the Gangetic river dolphins. The count done in the past was more or less fragmented. The stretches like the Upper Ganga have recorded good population. “It shows that if similar efforts are taken up at other places, it will push up the dolphin numbers,”

The census counted the Gangetic river dolphins present across 2,800 km stretch of the Ganga and its tributaries (Yamuna, Son, Ken, Betwa, Ghagra and Gerua). In 2005, WWF-India had counted 600 dolphins in the rivers of UP. “That ways it’s a good sign that number has been more or less been stable, if not increased drastically.

Over the past few years, the distribution range of dolphins has shrunken drastically with their population being adversely affected by various developmental activities like construction of dams and barrages, resulting in lean river flows, indiscriminate fishing, heavy siltation of rivers due to deforestation, pollution of the river and habitat destruction.

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Dolphins have a very slow growth rate. The male matures at the age of 10 years while females mature at 12 years. Their average age is 18 years. In all its lifetime, a female gives birth to 5 to 6 off springs. But environmental degradation is increasing the death rate of dolphins.

While the population of dolphin in 1982 was estimated to be around 5,000 in the country, now it’s below 2000 with an annual mortality estimated to be at 130-160 animals. The mammal is listed in schedule (I) of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and categorised as “endangered” by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).

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Raja Raja Cholan
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