Why in News?
- The much-awaited National Dolphin Research Centre (NDRC), India’s and Asia’s first is set to be established in Patna.
- It will play an important role in strengthening conservation efforts and research to save the endangered mammal.University will shift it to Bhagalpur where the number of dolphins is higher.
Threats to Dolphins:
- The water level has been decreasing and the flow has slowed down. Besides, siltation is increasing in the river. All this is not favourable for dolphins.
- The Gangetic river dolphin is India’s national aquatic animal but frequently falls prey to poachers and is sometimes killed inadvertently after being trapped in plastic fishing nets and hit by mechanized boats.
- The mammals are being killed at an alarming rate with wildlife officials saying poachers covet them for their flesh, fat and oil.
Habitat of Gangetic Dolphins:
- The mammal’s presence signals a healthy river ecosystem. Dolphins prefer water that is at least 5-8 feet deep. They are usually found in turbulent waters where there is enough fish for them to feed on. Gangetic dolphins prefer deep water with adjoining shallow water.
- They live in a zone where there is little or no current that helps them save energy. If they sense danger, they can go into deep waters. The dolphins swim from the no-current zone to the edges to hunt for fish and return.
- The Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary, India’s only dolphin sanctuary, spread over 50 km along the Ganges, is located in Bihar’s Bhagalpur district.
- Bihar is home to around half of the country’s estimated 3,000 dolphin population.
- Gangetic river dolphins fall under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act.
- It has been declared an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The Gangetic river species found in India, Bangladesh and Nepal is almost completely blind. It finds its way and prey using echoes with sound being everything for them to navigate, feed, escape danger, find mates, breed, nurse babies and play. The Gangetic river dolphin is one of the four freshwater dolphin species in the world. The other three are found in the Yangtze river, the Indus river in Pakistan and the Amazon river.