Close on the heels of findings that cancer in humans is common along the Ganga, comes the news that the number of dolphins in the Ganga and its tributaries has increased from 600 in 2005 to 671 this year. What’s reason to cheer is that the increased number of the endangered species indicates that the water is clean and worth being a home, at least for the dolphins
Polluted rivers, dying marine life. Shrinking forests, decreasing tigers. The heart-wrenching figures are all too depressing. But amid all the dismal news on the wildlife front, one tiny piece of news has come as a breath of fresh air: the number of dolphins in the Ganga and its tributaries in the upper Ganga system has increased from 600 in 2005 to 671 this year. This also indicates that the water in which the dolphins habitat is clean and worth being their home. This comes in tow of the distressing findings of a recent study conducted by the National Cancer Registry Programme that cancer is common in the parts where the Ganga flows.
The dolphin census, a first-of-its-kind initiative, was part of WWF-India’s initiative ‘My Ganga, My Dolphin’. Intended to map the Ganges river dolphin throughout the 2,800-km stretch of the Ganges and its tributaries (Yamuna, Som, Ken, Betwa, Ghagra and Geruwa), it was done in partnership with the Uttar Pradesh forest department. The campaign also endeavours to raise awareness among local communities in and around the banks of the Ganga about the presence and conservation of the national aquatic animal, as well as help in capacity building of stakeholders associated with the conservation of the mammal.
The Ganges river dolphin, or susu, as it is called by locals, lives in one of the most densely populated regions of the world. The major threats to the species are the loss of its habitat due to construction of dams and irrigation projects, removal of river water, siltation arising from deforestation, pollution and entanglement in fishing nets.
Explaining the importance of the survival of Gangetic Dolphins, often known as the “Tiger of the Ganges”, Ravi Singh, secretary general and CEO of WWF-India, says the river dolphin is an indicator animal and has the same position in a river ecosystem as a tiger in a forest: its presence indicating a healthy river ecosystem.
Talking about the necessity of the campaign, Ravi Singh says, “The rapid decline in the number