Five rare Irrawaddy Dolphins killed in Chilika lake

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Bhubaneswar, Feb 27 (UNI) Five rare and endangered Irrawaddy Dolphins were found dead this year inside the Chilika Lake, which has the largest population of the species in the world, the latest census putting the figure at 138.

Chilika Development Authority (CDA) Chief Executive Sudarshan Panda told newspersons here that while two adult dolphins died natural death, one was killed due to Shark bite and the rest two succumbed to their injuries while coming in contact with the fishing net and boat.

Mr Panda said the biopsy had been taken and would be sent to the veterinary college to ascertain the cause of deaths.

He, however, claimed that in comparison to other Irrawaddy Dolphin habitats in the world, the mortality rate was very low in the lagoon.

He said with effective monitoring and conservation measures the mortality rate has been greatly reduced. The boat operators have been sensitized to use propeller guards in their boats to prevent any injuries to these mammals.

The CDA Chief Executive said during 2003-04 as many as 15 dolphins were killed followed by 11 in 2004-05 but in the subsequent years the mortality rate has gone done with eight deaths reported in 2005-06.

Last year only five casualties were reported in the lake and this year by now five deaths had been recorded.

Mr Panda claimed that the Dolphin mortality inside the Lake was less than four per cent and the CDA has chalked out various strategies to reduce it further to two per cent as against 8 to 15 per cent in other habitats across the world.

He said Myanmar, which has 72 of such species, reported eight per cent mortality, Indonesia with 70 dolphins registered six to eight per cent mortality. In Cambodia and Vietnam the mortality rate was as high as 15 per cent with 95 dolphins recorded in the 2005 census.

Similarly, Philippines, having a population of 77 Irrawaddy dolphins, witnessed six per cent mortality and Thailand eight per cent with a population of 24 dolphins.

UNI DP PP AKJ AS152

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