Dolphins find a home in Chambal sanctuary

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Etawah, Feb.11 : The national Chambal Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh's Etawah District is a safe haven for dolphins' breeding.

The good news for nature lovers is that these intelligent aqua creatures have found the river with ample depth at this place to be a safe haven to breed.

Though the present number of dolphins is believed to be 92, it is likely to touch 150 soon as per a survey conducted in February (2007). ounded in 1979, the Chambal sanctuary was initially formed to protect River Chambal, the vital entity for the entire wild life of the sanctuary. Effective shelter and protection of the dolphins (Platenista Gangetica to the marine zoologists) has resulted in their population gradually rising in contrast to what used to be the scenario earlier.

"The name of the dolphin is Ganges river dolphin (Platanista Gangetica). Initially, it was found in Ganges and all the linked rivers. But now their habitat has shrunken and is limited to only few rivers. (River) Brahmaputra, Ganges, Chambal are its natural habitats. In these specific rivers, certain number of dolphins are found, which according to me must be around 2,000 to 2,500," said Dr. Rajiv Chauhan, Secretary General, Society for Conservation of Nature.

According to the Forest Department, besides providing a safe home to Ganges river dolphin, the 400 kilometer stretch of crystal clear water of River Chambal also supports marsh crocodiles, smooth-coated otters, half a dozen species of terrapins and turtles and 250 species of birds like Brahmini ducks, common teals, pelicans, flamingoes and cormorants.

"Our Chambal sanctuary was basically formed for alligators in 1979. But now along with alligators, you can also find dolphins and crocodiles which was unusual earlier. But in Chambal Sanctuary, they are well-protected," said Dr. G. Sudhakar, Divisional Forest Officer, Agra Range.

As per a census-based survey conducted early this year, the number of dolphins was found to be around 92.

"In February (2007), a preliminary survey was conducted as per which the 91 dolphins were sighted. But we predict more than that would be there since one in deep water couldn't have been counted. We think it should be around 120 to 130 dolphins," added Dr. Sudhakar.

Administration at the Chambal Sanctuary is taking steps to protect the endangered species from poachers and local mafia.

The administration is required to dispel the fears of the region being a stronghold of dacoits. With this tourism in specified areas can be given a boost. By Brajesh Kr.Singh

ANI

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