West Bengal will be soon boasting the India’s first community reserve to protect the endangered dolphins. The dolphin reserve will come up at Hoogly, a 500 km long stretch of the Ganges. West Bengal has initiated this move to protect the endangered Gangetic River Dolphins. The decision to this effect was taken by the State Wildlife Board.
The State Chief Wildlife Warden, Azam Zaidi said that a community reserve is proposed between Malda and the Sunderbans in the Hoogly River and a committee has been formed to examine how best this can be achieved. All stakeholders will be taken on board in this venture, and a framework will be ready within a year.
The WWF (World Wide Fund) reports that the Ganges River Dolphin or Susu is found primarily in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of India, Nepal and Bangladesh.
Declared as National Aquatic Animal in 2010, Ganges River Dolphin has been hunted almost to extinction and today only about 2,000 remains.
The Ganges River Dolphin is often termed as the Tiger of The Ganges, it is an indicator animal and has the same importance as the tiger in a forest ecosystem.
The Forest Department is also conducting a census to estimate the population of the Dolphins in the Ganges and the Brahmaputra river system.
Main causes of the decimation of the Dolphin population include indiscriminate killing, fragmentation of habitat due to unbridled human activities that include construction of barrages, and dams.
Pollution is also a major cause of large scale death of the Dolphin population.
The river also is a sole source of income for hundreds of fisherman, and they have lived for hundreds of years. The forest officials were aware of this fact and were quick to reassure that every measure will be taken to protect these fishermen and their livelihood.