Three teams to count en­dan­gered Gangetic dol­phins in Bi­har

Gulf Times - - INDIA -

Three teams of ex­perts and sci­en­tists will be­gin on November 18 a com­pre­hen­sive drive to enu­mer­ate the en­dan­gered Gangetic dol­phins along nearly 1,000km of the Ganges River and its two ma­jor trib­u­taries - Gan­dak and Ghaghra - in Bi­har.

Sci­en­tists ex­pect to find out the ex­act num­ber of th­ese dol­phins by the mid­dle of December af­ter the com­ple­tion of the first such com­pre­hen­sive cen­sus, of­fi­cials said.

The sur­vey will help au­thor­i­ties for­mu­late con­ser­va­tion poli­cies and make sure the dol­phins’ num­ber doesn’t dwin­dle.

“The cen­sus of the en­dan­gered dol­phins will be com­pleted on December 10. A sum­mary re­port will be sub­mit­ted to the govern­ment in March next year,” Gopal Sharma, se­nior sci­en­tist at the Zoo­log­i­cal Sur­vey of In­dia, said in Patna.

Sharma will lead one of the teams.

The other two groups will be led by Sameer Ku­mar Sinha of the Wildlife Trust of In­dia, and Su­nil Choud­hary, co-or­di­na­tor of Vikramshila Bio­di­ver­sity Re­search and Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre (VBREC), Tilka Man­jhi Bha­galpur Univer­sity.

Sharma told IANS that this would be the first time that a sur­vey is be­ing con­ducted si­mul­ta­ne­ously in the Ganges and its two ma­jor trib­u­taries.

This is also the first time that a co-or­di­nated ex­er­cise will be made for the dol­phin pop­u­la­tion as­sess­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to him, the three teams will be­gin the sur­vey in their re­spec­tive zones on the same day to min­imise the pos­si­bil­ity of du­pli­ca­tion in the count.

“I will carry out the sur­vey from Chausa in Buxar district to Mokama in Patna, a stretch of about 300km in the Ganga, to count the num­ber of dol­phins there dur­ing 22 days,” Sharma said.

Sinha will carry out the sur­vey in Ghaghra and Gan­dak along a 400km stretch, while Choud­hary will con­duct the as­sess­ment from Mokama to Mani­hari, a stretch of about 300km.

Bi­har is home to around half of the es­ti­mated 3,000 dol­phin pop­u­la­tion in the coun­try.

The last sur­vey of the dol­phins was con­ducted in a lim­ited stretch in 2012 in Bi­har and nearly 1,500 dol­phins were counted then.

The Vikramshila Gangetic Dol­phin Sanc­tu­ary in Bha­galpur district is In­dia’s only such sanc­tu­ary, spread over 50km along the Ganges.

“Un­like in the past, this time a full sur­vey on a large scale will help count the ex­act num­ber of dol­phins,” Sinha said.

He said that the sur­vey will help the govern­ment take mea­sures for con­ser­va­tion of the dol­phins.

R K Sinha, an ex­pert on Gangetic river dol­phins, said that the habi­tat of the en­dan­gered dol­phins has been chang­ing due to cli­mate change, threat­en­ing their sur­vival.

Change in their habi­tat has re­sulted in a de­crease in their pop­u­la­tion.

“Cli­mate change has im­pacted the habi­tat of Gangetic river dol­phins. It is vis­i­ble in the river Ganga and its trib­u­taries. Wa­ter lev­els and the flow (cur­rent) have been de­creas­ing, a bad omen for the dol­phins,” Sinha said.

Sinha, known as the ‘Dol­phin Man’, said that sev­eral habi­tats of the Gangetic river dol­phins have shrunk in the past few decades, and many more will fol­low in com­ing years due to cli­mate change.

“Ris­ing tem­per­a­ture and er­ratic rainfall are lead­ing to a fast de­cline in river flow that is bound to hit dol­phins,” he added.

BJP pres­i­dent Amit Shah ad­dresses a press con­fer­ence af­ter re­leas­ing the party’s man­i­festo for the up­com­ing Ch­hat­tis­garh assem­bly elec­tions, in Raipur yes­ter­day.

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