Dolphin numbers increasing in Brahmaputra

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Guwahati, Jul 28 (UNI) The number of the most endangered river dolphins, found only in eastern India, have been slowly increasing.

The latest survey in the river system of the Brahmaputra has found that there is a marginal increase in the number of dolphins.

''It is quite a modest growth. From a minimum of 250 it has now gone up to 265. But it is very significant,'' said Dr Abdul Wakid, the Programme Leader of the Gangetic Dolphin Research and Conservation Programme (GDRCP).

The Gangetic dolphin is an endangered species with a global population of less than 2000 found in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli river systems of India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

Due to rapid decline of the population over the last three decades, the Aarnyak and a Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation started the GDRCP in 2004 with an aim of their long term conservation.

The recent population assesment survey found that there are a minimum of 265 dolphins in the Brahmaputra river system of which 27 and 26 were respectively in Kulsi and Subansiri river. Three years back, the same survey found 250 dolphins in the river system.

Dr Wakid, who released the figures at a press conference, identified mortality of dolphins through gill net entangling and poaching for oil besides habitat loss and over-fishing as the major threats for the decline of the population.

The GRRCP also conducted studies on the ecology and behaviour of dolphins in different parts of the Brahmaputra valley and developed a field station at Kukurmara near Kulsi river of Kamrup district.

Further, as an attempt to reduce their mortality, a Dolphin Conservation Network is being developed involving 40 community based trained volunteers to monitor and conserve the species and their habitats scientifically and systematically in 40 identified dolphin hotspots across the Brahmaputra valley.

In fact due to the extensive research and conservation initiatives on the dolphins of the Brahmaputra river system, Dr Abdul Wakid has been nominated as a Member to the Prestigious IUCN-Cetacean Specialist Group.

UNI MT RH PL SP UCS1436

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