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
Post your answers here.