Lekha Borah sends this picture of a Gangetic dolphin (Platanista gangetica) killed by local villagers in Assam. A fish seller was found selling dolphin meat at a roadside market in Lezai-Kalakhowa, 15 km from Dibrugarh.
Gangetic dolphin, a fresh water dolphin found in the Ganges and the Brahmpautra rivers of India, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan and Bangladesh is the national aquatic animal of India. It is classified as an endangered species and included in the Schedule I species list of the Wildlife Protection Act. Though legally the species enjoys protection status equal to that of a tiger, poor awareness, construction of dams that restrict their movement, hunting for food etc. are driving them to extinction
These dolphins can weigh up to 100 kgs and depend heavily on their highly developed sonar capabilities that their eyes have been atrophied. These dolphins use biosonar to navigate their environment and to find and catch prey though echolocation. Very little is known about these dolphins and their populations. Together with the Indus subspecies they are the sole representatives of the family platanistidae. Increasing awareness among fishing communities and villagers along the range, habitat protection coupled with stricter law enforcement are critical to save our national aquatic animal.
Aaranyak’s (an active wildlife conservation NGO based in Assam) Gangetic Dolphin Research and Conservation Initiative has taken up the matter with the forest department.
Media coverage: Times of India (Guwahati).