Tuesday, 28 July 2015

India conducts first official survey of Ganges dolphins

Conservation programme aims to protect the endangered species and restore biodiversity of the polluted river, reports The Straits Times

Nirmala Ganapathy for The Straits Times, part of the Climate Publishers Network

Tuesday 28 July 2015 11.22 BST

The conservation of dolphins in India’s holiest, but most polluted waterway, is under the spotlight as the country conducts its first official count of the freshwater species.

An estimated 450 volunteers, government experts and conservationists will take part in the exercise, which spans the states of Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, in November and December.

“This is the first time a unified survey will be done for an aquatic animal. It has been done for elephants and tigers but this is more complicated,” Dr Sandeep Behera, consultant at the government’s National Mission for Clean Ganga, told The Sunday Times. “We are doing the survey in winter, when water levels drop and we can capture numbers in small isolated pockets and get a good idea of the population.”

The government also hopes to gauge the health of the river in the process. “This time we have taken aquatic biodiversity as an indicator of how pollution is affecting the Ganges,” said Dr Behera.

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