Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Dolphins return to the Ganga


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Gangetic Dolphin

Mains level: Not Much


Dolphins have started coming back to the Ganga with improvement in the quality of the river water made possible by the Namami Gange Programme.

About Gangetic Dolphin

  • The Gangetic river system is home to a vast variety of aquatic life, including the Gangetic dolphin (Platanista gangetica).
  • It is one of five species of river dolphin found around the world.
  • It is found mainly in the Indian subcontinent, particularly in Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems.
  • An adult dolphin could weigh between 70 kg and 90 kg. The breeding season of the Gangetic dolphin extends from January to June.
  • They feed on several species of fishes, invertebrates etc.

Threats to Gangetic dolphins

  • The construction of dams and barrages and increasing pollution has led to a decline in the population of aquatic animals in the rivers in general and of dolphins in particular.
  • Aquatic life is an indicator of the health of river ecosystems.
  • As the Gangetic dolphin is at the top of the food chain, protecting the species and its habitat will ensure

How are they conserved?

  • Although efforts to save them were started in the mid-1980s, the estimates suggest the numbers have not risen as a result.
  • The Gangetic dolphin remains listed as Endangered by the IUCN.
  • After the launch of Ganga Action Plan in 1985, the government on November 24, 1986, included Gangetic dolphins in the First Schedule of the Indian Wildlife (Protection), Act 1972.
  • This was aimed at checking hunting and providing conservation facilities such as wildlife sanctuaries.
  • For instance, Vikramshila Ganges Dolphin Sanctuary was established in Bihar under this Act.
  • It has been recognized as National Aquatic Animal of India.

Policy moves for conservation

  • The government had prepared The Conservation Action Plan for the Ganges River Dolphin 2010-2020.
  • The National Mission for Clean Ganga celebrates October 5 as National Ganga River Dolphin Day.
  • There is also Project Dolphin on the lines of Project Tiger, which has helped increase the tiger population.


Try this PYQ:

Which one of the following is the national aquatic animal of India?

(a) Saltwater crocodile

(b) Olive ridley turtle

(c) Gangetic dolphin

(d) Gharial


Post your answers here.
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