CDA proposes to undertake genetic study of Irrawaddy Dophin

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Bhubaneswar, Feb 28 (UNI) Concerned over rapid decline of endangered Irrawady Dolphin population worldwide, the Chilka Development Authority (CDA) has proposed to undertake a genetic study of the Cetacean species.

CDA's chief executive, Dr Sudarshan Panda said the Chilka lake, being a natural home of the Irrawaddy Dolphin, listed as Scheduled One species, could be ideal place if the CDA's proposal for finger mapping and the DNA study of the mammal's reproductive behaviour, which still unknown to the researchers world over, was conceded.

The population of this endangered dolphin has estimated about 900 world over, mostly distributed in some pockets of Asia and Australia. But the Chilka Lake has the largest lagoonal population of Irrawaddy Dolphin with the latest census putting the figure at 138.

The CDA has sought the permission of the Environment and Forest Ministry since a portion of the skin of the dead animal would be required for gene mapping.

Once the permission was granted, the CDA will go ahead with the project in technical collaboration with the Central Inland Fisheries Institute (CIFA),Bhubaneswar, Mr Panda added.

He claimed though the Irrawaddy Dolphins are found in Myanmar, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand and Australia, nowhere the gene mapping attempt was made to determine their behaviour pattern and sex determination.

Mr Panda said some scientific studies, conducted by the CDA in collaboration with the experts from Tokyo University and the National Research Institute of Fisheries and Engineering, Japan with the use of hydrophones in the lake, revealed that the Irrawaddy Dolphins are found very active during the night and they move in group for fishing inside the water.

He said a passive acoustic observation platform had been developed specifically to monitor the detailed underwater behaviour of dolphins in Chilka lagoon.

''It is visually difficult to differentiate the sex of the Irrawaddy Dolphin. The genetic mapping can throw light in this regard besides throwing light on the genetic make up of the mammal found in other countries,'' he said.

The Irrawaddy Dolphins do not sleep and breed once in two years by giving birth to one calf only. The size of the adult dolphin is measured from 2.3 meters to 2.5 meters.

The CDA chief said judging the high mortality rate, witnessed in the habitats of the Irrawaddy Dolphins world over, the gene mapping would be very much helpful for future conservation of the rare species as one could go for cloning of the species if necessary.

In the Chilka lake, as many as 45 Irrawaddy Dolphins have been killed during the last five years but still the mortality rate in the lake is considered to be low in comparison to other habitats world over, Mr Panda mentioned.

UNI DP PC SG KP2056

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