First aquatic census finds 1,150 dolphins in Bihar
A first of its kind census conducted by experts from Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and Tilka Majhi University, Bhagalpur has found out that there are only 1150 dolphins in different rivers of Bihar.
Since such an extensive census hasn’t been conducted in the past, it cannot be verified whether the number of the mammals has increased or decreased in the recent past in the rivers of Bihar. The dolphins are, however, among the most endangered species on earth and their numbers have been constantly declining despite several protective measures taken up by the government to conserve them.
The recent census, which is the first ever aquatic census of dolphins in Bihar by the direct count method, was done in the Ganges, Gandak and Ghaghara, which are home to the Ganges River Dolphins. Funded by the Bihar government, the census was done comprehensively and simultaneously in different stretches of the three rivers from November 18 to December 15, 2018.
The first stretch of the census was carried out on the Ganges from Buxar to Mokama. It stretched 300 km and the survey team was led by Dr Gopal Sharma, deputy director, Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), Bihar and Jharkhand.
The second stretch was also on the Ganges from Mokama to Manihari measuring 300 km and the survey team was led by Professor Sunil Choudhary of Botany department of Tilka Manjhi University, Bhagalpur. He is also coordinator of Vikramshila biodiversity research and education centre, Bhagalpur.
The third stretch survey was done in Gandak and Ghaghara rivers stretching 400 km. Here the survey team was led by deputy director of Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) Dr Samir Kumar Sinha.
During survey, 300 dolphins were found in the Ganges from Buxar to Mokama, 700 in the Ganges from Mokama to Manihari, 100 in the Gandak river and 50 in the Ghaghara river.
Under the direct count method, the experts count the dolphins on the basis of their size and height when they to come to the surface to breath. Bihar is home to around half of the estimated 3000 dolphin population in the country.
Dr Gopal Sharma said, spreading awareness is the key to dolphin conservation. “In Bihar,, the awareness, of late, has been high and hence poaching of the mammal has declined. Besides , stringent laws against dolphins poaching have also helped.” Dr Sharma declined possibilities of artificial breeding of Dolphins.