At last count, the rivers of Assam and Uttar Pradesh respectively had 962 and 1,275 Gangetic dolphins, India’s national aquatic dolphin. These numbers were tabled in Parliament recently by Minister of State for Environment and Forest Babul Supriyo. BJP member Rajiv Pratap Rudy had asked whether the government has carried out an assessment of the population and habitation areas of the Gangetic dolphin in the country; Supriyo replied that such assessments are done by respective state Forest Departments and the data are not collated in the Union ministry. He tabled the figures for Assam and UP based on information received from the two state governments.
The population assessment in Assam was done between January and March 2018, while the UP count of 1,272 is for 2015, up from 671 in 2012.
In Assam, the assessment was carried out in three rivers, with the Brahmaputra accounting for 877 of the 962 dolphins. In addition to the species being India’s national aquatic animal, the Gangetic dolphin has been notified by the Assam government as the state aquatic animal, too. Silting and sand lifting from rivers in Assam has been stopped to maintain its population.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed the Gangetic dolphin as an endangered species in India.
According to the WWF, the main threat to the Gangetic dolphin is the creation of dams and irrigation projects. The ministry reply said the Conservation Action Plan for the Gangetic Dolphin, 2010-2020, identified threats to these dolphins that include the impact of river traffic, construction of irrigation canals and depletion of their prey-base.
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