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Current Affairs

Protection of Indus River Dolphins

Date: 03 November 2021 Tags: Biodiversity

Issue

The centre is set to conduct census of the Indus river dolphin (Platanista gangetica minor) in the winters.

 

Background

The Indus River Dolphin is one of the world’s most threatened cetaceans. It is found in only the Beas River in India.

 

Details

  • Until recently, it was believed that these dolphins were endemic to Pakistan. In 2007, a small population was discovered in Punjab’s Harike wildlife sanctuary and in the lower Beas river. 

  • The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified the Indus river dolphin as endangered.

  • Punjab’s Department of Forests and Wildlife Preservation and WWF are partnering to conduct research on current distribution, habitat use and population abundance of the mammal.

  • In 2019, the government of Punjab declared the Indus river dolphin as the State aquatic animal.

 

Details of project

  • The project focuses on a multi-pronged strategy, including habitat management, monitoring, research, advocacy, and environmental education.

  • The important component will be habitat improvement. Data will be collected based on spatial and temporal distribution pattern of species.

  • Community monitoring will be encouraged by involving villagers living in areas around the hotspot of the species habitat.

  • A group of dedicated individuals will be developed as ‘Beas-Dolphin Mitras’ [friends and protectors] of the river Beas. 

 

Protection area

  • Indus river dolphins and many other aquatic species are found along the 185 km stretch of the river starting from 52 Headworks, Talwara to Harike Headworks. It was declared as the Beas Conservation Reserve in 2018.

  • Previous counts have indicated that their population is critically small, numbering less than 10. 

 

Methodology for counting

  • The Wildlife Institute of India has created a standardized methodology for the counting process. It will be one of the key steps towards conservation. 

  • Counting dolphins is not an easy task as they are visible for few split seconds. Training sessions are conducted to train people involved on getting a reliable count of dolphins.