Indian Marine Life Update – Decline in Dolphin Population

Dolphin - India
Dolphin - India

Decline in Dolphin Population

  Dolphins are animals of aquatic ecosystems. They are found in the sea, brackish water and fresh water. A total of 15 species of marine and harbour dolphins have been reported from Indian waters and coasts.  Besides, the Irrawady Dolphins are found in brackish waters of Odisha. Amongst the fresh water dolphins, the Gangetic Dolphin is found in the Ganges river and its tributaries. Apart from this, Indus River Dolphins have also been reported in Indus River in Punjab.

State/UT-wise population details of dolphins in the country are not collated in the Ministry. However, the latest population assessment of the Gangetic dolphins carried out in Uttar Pradesh, in Ganges and its tributaries during October 2015 indicated around 1263 Dolphins, compared to the earlier estimate of 671 assessed in 2012. Population status of other dolphins is not known.

Diverse pressure on rivers due to human activities, including pollution, is generally considered to impact biodiversity of river ecosystem. Dolphins are part of  river ecosystem also.

(c) The following are the important steps taken for conservation of Dolphins:

i. All fresh water, brackish water and marine Dolphins (Cetaceans) are listed in Schedule-I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, thereby according them the highest degree of protection against hunting.

ii. Gangetic Dolphin is one of the 17 species identified for taking up ‘Recovery programme of Critically Endangered Species, under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of ‘Integrated Development  of Wildlife Habitat’.

iii.The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has designated Gangetic Dolphins as ‘National Aquatic Animal.

iv. Wildlife Sanctuaries covering important Dolphin habitats have been created in the country under the provisions of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 to conserve their habitats. These include Marine National Parks and Sanctuaries (Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, and Andaman & Nicobar Islands), National Chambal Sanctuary (Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh), Saranath Turtle Sanctuary (Uttar Pradesh), Vikramshila Ganges Dolphin Sanctuary (Bihar).

v. The National CAMPA Advisory Council in its 6th meeting held on 8th July, 2015 has approved an amount of Rs 23.00 crores in duration of 5 years for recovery programme of Ganges River Dolphin (Platanista gangetica gangetica). This project is to be coordinated by Wildlife Institute of India.  The amount of Rs. 4.60 crores has been released during the first year, 2015-16.

vi.    National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has initiated dolphin conservation programme in 2016 to ensure long term survival of dolphin and other river fauna.

This information was given by Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Anil Madhav Dave, in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha today.

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