News: Prime Minister announced Project Dolphin on Independence Day
- The project is aimed at the conservation of the Gangetic Dolphins — both riverine as well as the oceanic dolphins in India.
- Significance: Aquatic life is an indicator of the health of river ecosystems. As the Gangetic dolphin is at the top of the food chain, protecting the species and its habitat will ensure conservation of aquatic lives of the river.
Gangetic river dolphin:
- The Gangetic river dolphin inhabits the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh.
- Being a mammal, the Ganges River dolphin cannot breathe in the water and must surface every 30-120 seconds. Because of the sound it produces when breathing, the animal is popularly referred to as the ‘Susu’.
- Population: 1,272 dolphins in Uttar Pradesh and 962 in Assam in 2019
- Threats: construction of dams and barrages, and increasing pollution
- IUCN Red List: Endangered
- CITES: Appendix I.
Conservation Measures for Gangetic Dolphin:
- Wildlife Protection Act: Gangetic Dolphin is protected under Schedule I of the Act. Further, Vikramshila Ganges Dolphin Sanctuary was established in Bihar under this Act.
- Conservation Plan: The government also prepared The Conservation Action Plan for the Ganges River Dolphin 2010-2020, which “identified threats to Gangetic Dolphins and impact of river traffic, irrigation canals and depletion of prey-base on Dolphins populations”.
- National Aquatic Animal: In 2009, National Ganga River Basin Authority, declared the Gangetic river dolphin as the national aquatic animal. The National Mission for Clean Ganga celebrates October 5 as National Ganga River Dolphin Day.