A state level (Bihar) task force on Gangetic Dolphin Conservation, headed by the “Dolphin Man of India” R. K. Sinha, will submit its report to the State Government in the next five to six months. R. K. Sinha is the head of the Patna-based Central University’s environmental department and also chairman of the Central government working group for dolphin conservation. The endangered Gangetic dolphin is India’s national aquatic animal, but faces the following threats:
- Multiple dams and barriers disrupting free movement of the dolphins
- Pollution by fertilizers, pesticides and industrial and domestic effluents, which are responsible for the death of many fish and are likely to have a negative effect on dolphin population
- Killing of the animals for their meat or oil (used as catfish bait), and accidental entanglement in fishing nets
More than a dozen dolphins have been killed in Bihar in the last two years. The Gangetic dolphin is one of the four species of freshwater dolphins found in the world. The others are found in the Yangtze river in China, the Indus river in Pakistan and the Amazon in South America. There are estimated some 2000 Gangetic dolphins left.
Gangetic Dolphins (known as Soons by Locals) are classified as Endangered on the 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and included in Schedule-I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.