Bihar to set up dolphin conservation task force

April 21st, 2011 - 3:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, April 21 (IANS) Bihar has decided to set up a task force for conservation of the endangered Gangetic river dolphins, an official said Thursday.

Mithilesh Kumar, member secretary of the state wildlife board, said a task force headed by wild life expert R.K. Sinha would be constituted soon.

“The state government is serious about the conservation of Gangetic dolphins. A task force is a move in this direction,” Kumar told IANS here.

Sinha is an expert on the species and also chairman of the working group for dolphin conservation set up by the central government.

The Gangetic dolphin is India’s national aquatic animal, but frequently falls prey to poachers in the state. Their carcasses are found regularly on the banks of the river.

Ganges river dolphins are being killed at an alarming rate in Bihar. Wildlife officials say poachers kill them for flesh and oils.

The environment ministry has asked the state government to launch an awareness campaign among the people to protect the specie.

Ganges river dolphins fall in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act and have been declared an endangered species under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Sinha, head of the Patna University’s zoology department, said more than a dozen dolphins have reportedly been killed in Bihar in two years.

Experts estimate that the current number of the Ganges river dolphin is around 2,000. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) says in the 1980s, there were around 3,500 dolphins in the Ganga delta region alone.

The Gangetic dolphin is one of the four freshwater dolphin species in the world. The other three are found in the Yangtze river in China, the Indus river in Pakistan and the Amazon river in South America.

The species, found in India, Bangladesh and Nepal, is blind and finds its way and its prey in the river waters through echoes.

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