The Ganges River Dolphin (Platanista gangetica) has been declared as the national aquatic animal of India. These dolphins, once abundant in the Ganga, and Brahmaputra river basins, are now an endangered species. According to recent estimates from conservationists and WWF-India, only 2000 of them remain. Killing, habitat fragmentation by dams and barrages, indiscriminate fishing and pollution of the rivers have contributed to the dwindling numbers.
“Our research shows accidental killing through fisheries by-catch, followed by poaching for oil, are the major threats to the dolphins of the Brahmaputra river system,” says Project Leader Abdul Wakid. “Their habitat is also being degraded by human activities. Dam building and a proposed seismic survey in the Brahmaputra river are potential threats.
The Ganges river dolphins are found in rivers of Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal. Their ideal habitats are in the Ganges, Chambal, Ghaghra, Gandak, Sone, Kosi, Brahmaputra, and Kulsi rivers.
Ganges river dolphins have been included in the Schedule-I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, “thereby affording them the highest degree of protection”.
I hope that all conservation efforts bear fruit and it becomes smooth sailing for this dolphin which is blind(does not have a eye lens) and navigates, hunts by echolocation.