A three-day awareness programme about the Ganges river dolphin, conducted by WWF-India in partnership with the UP state forest department, ended on Sunday.
The programme included a survey of dolphins across a 3,000-km stretch of the Ganges and its key tributaries including the Yamuna, Son, Ken, Betwa, Ghagra and Geruwa. The campaign, which was launched on Friday, also included awareness programmes for local communities in and around the banks of the Ganga for the conservation of the aquatic mammal.
The Ganges river dolphin (Platanista gangetica) commonly known as the 'Susu' or 'Soons' is an endemic fauna of the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna river systems. It is one of the four freshwater dolphins of the world. It prefers to stay in the deep waters in and around the confluence of two or more rivers
'Susu' shares its habitat with crocodiles, freshwater turtles and wetland birds many of which are fish eaters and are potential competitors with dolphins. Often known as the ''Tiger of the Ganges'' the river dolphin is an indicator animal, which has the same position in a river ecosystem as a tiger in a forest.
The number of dolphins in the Ganges has declined to about 1,600 (the last census was conducted in 2005), from nearly 5,000 in 1982. There were about 50,000 dolphins in the Ganges about a hundred years ago.
The three-day survey of the mammals was undertaken by forest officials, NGOs, activists and volunteers, who covered 16 stretches of India's sacred river. Growing pollution, siltation and the construction of dams and barrages has resulted in a sharp fall in the number of dolphins in Indian rivers.