Gangetic Dolphins face extinction in Chambal river


Bhopal: The most endangered Gangetic dolphins are sliding towards extinction from Chambal river in Madhya Pradesh in the face of damaging fishing methods and sand mining , reveals the 2012 census report. The count will be zero in next five years if proper steps are not initiated, warn experts.
According to a joint survey carried out by the MP forest officials, their Rajasthan counter part, Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and World Wildlife Federation (WWF) in February, May and June this year, only 58 Dolphins were found in Chambal river this year compared to 65 in the 2011.
Officials figure claims sighting of 175 dolphins in 2006, later it declined to 91 in 2007, 86 in 2008, 84 in 2009 and 69 in 2010.
“It’s alarming. We have submitted our report to the state headquarters with threat analysis and necessary recommendations,” says Dr Rishikesh Sharma, expert on aquatic animal species posted at Morena. He was a key member of the survey team.
The officials had to face inter-state issues while surveying the 435-km stretch of Chambal river passing through MP, Rajasthan and Utter Pradesh (UP).
While forest officials in MP and Rajasthan got along, their UP counterparts expressed lack of concern. The UP rangers cautioned surveyors to stay away entering the area falling under their jurisdiction.
Following which survey of 30-km stretch in UP (Chakan Nagar to PanchNagar) had to be abandoned. Surprisingly, two dolphins were found dead under mysterious circumstances in the same region in UP after the survey was over. A 134-cm long Gangetic dolphin was found dead in a rivulet in Chakan Nagar (Sahson area) close to Chambal River in UP’s Etawah district in August.
Principal Chief Conservator of forest (PCCF) PC Shukla said that he has not come across the latest census report for any comment on the issue. Asked whether any conservation project would be initiated, he said “I don’t think so. We have hundreds of dolphins”. The officer was hardly aware of the actual status of Gangetic Dolphins. “We had been too busy with the tiger issue,” he explained.
The Gangetic dolphins have been declared as the National Aquatic Animal of India in the first meeting of the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on October 5, 2009.
It had been included in the Schedule-I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, thereby giving them the highest degree of protection.
A proposal to study of dolphin population dynamics in Chambal and its tributaries, identification and study of their breeding pocket and yearly status review study of resident dolphin population in river Chambal is still under consideration.

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