Dolphin declared as Assam's state aquatic animal

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Guwahati, June 5 (UNI) The endangered river dolphin, found in the Brahmaputra river system, was declared as the state aquatic animal of Assam today.

The formal declaration was made by Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi while participating in a function to mark World Environment Day.

A sustained campaign was launched by nature lovers of the state to get an official status for the river dolphins as that would help in the conservation activities of this highly endangered species.

As per the latest survey on river dolphins in the Brahmaputra system conducted in 2005, there were 250 dolphins in the entire valley, with 27 in the 76 km stretch of Kulsi river, 26 in Subansiri river and 197 in 856 km-long Brahmaputra mainstream (from Assam-Arunachal border to India-Bangladesh border).

Another survey in 1993 had recorded 266 dolphins in the Brahmaputra mainstream, whereas the 2005 survey recorded only 197 dolphins in the same stretch, which is roughly 26 per cent less in 12 years.

Another survey has been started in February to assess the current population of the species in the Brahmaputra river system.

The Ganges river dolphin (Platanista gangetica gangetica), which is among the three last surviving river dolphin species in the world, is found in the Ganges-Brahmaputra river system, primarily in India and Bangladesh.

They have been listed as Endangered by the IUCN World Conservation Union following population decline by at least 50 per cent and because the factors causing the decline, including by-catch in fishing gear, diversion of water, pollution and fragmentation of habitat, which are still present, are not fully understood and irreversible.

UNI SG DPM RL AS1456

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