First organised census for Indus dolphins to be carried out in India
For the conservation of Indus dolphins - one of the world’s rarest mammals - the Punjab government along with WWF-India are conducting the first organised census on their population, officials said on Thursday.
Found only in India and Pakistan, the Indus dolphins are confined to only a 185 km stretch between Talwara and Harike Barrage in India’s Beas river in Punjab.
Officials from the Department of Forests and Wildlife Preservation, Punjab and WWF-India are currently working in two teams and will come to an estimate regarding the dolphin population over the five-day exercise.
“We are trying to establish their near accurate population as to plan their conservation accordingly. It is the first organised census, previously we had merely spotted them,” Kuldeep Kumar, Chief Wildlife Warden, Punjab told IANS.
According to Suresh Babu, Director River Wetland and Water Policy, WWF-India, the most flourishing population of the Indus dolphin, platanista gangetica minor, is found across Pakistan where their numbers are estimated to be around 1,800 over a stretch of 1,500 km of the Indus river.
In India, a tiny population survives in this small stretch of the Beas river. Experts say they were also found in Sutlej decades back, however, river pollution is believed to be a major cause of their extinction from the habitat.
“Dolphins are a key indicator of river health- if a river is healthy the dolphins will be there and if not, we have the example of Sutlej,” Suresh Babu told IANS.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), construction of critical barrage is associated with the large-scale decline in the area of occupancy, “which have not ceased”. IUCN suspects the population size of the Indus river dolphins has reduced by more than 50% since 1944.
A blind species that communicates through echo like bats do, Indus dolphins are one of the seven freshwater dolphins found across the world.
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- Erection of a 40-km-long electric fence around the part of the reserve known most for man-animal encounters has also helped in containing the incidents.
- The road, HT learned, has been constructed by a contractor to facilitate the installation of new sewer lines, for which wastewater from existing sewers is being pumped out in the salt lakes.
- No significant change in temperatures is likely over most parts of northwest, west and central India during the next 24 hours.