Katarniaghat Sanctuary may become research centre of aquatic animal, proposal sent to Centre
It is important to mention that the national aquatic animal Gangetic dolphin is flourishing in the Geruwa River. This is in stark contrast to the situation in the Ganga and the Gharga rivers where it is disappearing fast.
Bahraich Located along the Indo-Nepal border in Bahraich, the Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary (KWS) could soon be the second research centre of the National Aquatic Animal in the country. A proposal in this regard has already been sent to the Centre by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII). The proposal seeks Centre’s nod to set up a dolphin research centre along the bank of Geruwa river, which flows through KWS in Bahraich.
Sharing further details, B Prabhakar, field director (FD), Dudhwa Tiger Reserve (DTR), told HT that the proposal is pending at the level of the Government of India. As per the proposal, the area would be improvised and focused for boosting production of Gangetic dolphins. Besides, a rapid action force would be deployed to deal with poachers/hunters.
In Uttar Pradesh dolphins are found in the stretches of Ganga River from Bijnor to Narora, in the Chambal on the border of Etawah and Agra and in Ghagra and Geruwa river in KWS in Bahraich. Notably, the Gangetic dolphin is listed endangered by the IUCN and is placed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Earlier in 2009, the Union government had declared dolphins as the national aquatic animal.
Speaking on the development, Akash Deep Badhwan, divisional forest officer of KWS, said that KWS is a wonderful and closed habitat of Gangetic dolphins. He said about a 12-kilometre stretch of the Geruwa River within the sanctuary area is protected and monitored most of the time. Fishing is strictly prohibited while the river stretch is monitored by motor boats and watch towers. Moreover, the Gharial and boating centre is already there on the bank of the river. So, it is very logical to establish a research centre in the sanctuary area. He said the centre would certainly be helpful in the conservation of the freshwater aquatic species.
It is important to mention that the national aquatic animal Gangetic dolphin is flourishing in the Geruwa River. This is in stark contrast to the situation in the Ganga and the Gharga rivers where it is disappearing fast. The dolphins were reviving in the Geruwa as its water was fresh and clean, said Badhawan. The river originates in Nepal and enters the sanctuary through eight channels.
According to an estimate, there are about 2,000 gangetic dolphins in different rivers in India. Of these, about 60-to-80 are present in the Geruwa River in KWS. Badhawan said that fishing in the Geruwa is prohibited and the research centre would help a lot in its conservation. He said the dolphin conservation research centre proposal was sent in October 2022. Some changes were suggested by the government in the proposal and we are waiting for the approval, he added.
As of now, the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary (VGDS) of Bhagalpur in Bihar is the only dolphin sanctuary in the country. Besides, India’s and Asia’s first Dolphin research centre was set up on the banks of the Ganga River in Patna University campus in Patna. So, if things go as planned, KWS would be the second dolphin research centre in the country.