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(IN): Endangered river dolphin

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    Link: http://www.assamtribune.com/scripts/details.asp?id=aug0108/edit *EDITORIAL* ... *MESSAGE FOR TODAY There are two things for which animals are to be
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 31 9:56 PM
      Link: http://www.assamtribune.com/scripts/details.asp?id=aug0108/edit

      There are two things for which animals are to be envied: they know nothng of
      future evils or of what people say about them.
      � voltaire

      Endangered river dolphin

      ***Human interference has altered for worse eco-systems in every corner of
      the globe. Ironically, scientific developments have hastened its deleterious
      impact, with faunal and floral species bearing the brunt of man's rapacity
      and capacity to destroy. The number of endangered species in the Red Data
      Book of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural
      Resources has increased each year. Nowhere is this as tellingly visible as
      in Assam, once described by naturalists as a paradise for wild-life. Being a
      region with a high number of aquatic bodies, with the mighty Brahmaputra and
      its numerous tributaries at the core, Assam was once rich in aquatic life.
      The gharial, or freshwater crocodile, had been abundant in rivers and swampy
      shallows. Rivers teemed with turtles as late as the first half of the
      twentieth century, authors such as Lakshminath Bezbaruah testifying to their
      abundance in writing. Equally ubiquitous had been the Gangetic river
      dolphin, locally known as the sihu. There are graphic accounts by
      steamer-travellers in the past of a host of these playful and friendly
      creatures frolicking by the side of a vessel as it made its way across the
      Brahmaputra. Unfortunately a number of causes, including poaching for its
      oil, entanglement in fishermen's nets, human over-exploitation of rivers
      etc. have caused the number of this species to dwindle alarmingly. Latest
      figures estimate their number in Assam to be merely 265, with 212 in the
      Brahmaputra, 30 in Kulsi and 23 in Subansiri.

      This dismal scenario entails that a concerted effort be made towards
      conserving the river dolphin and organisations such as Aaranyak have to be
      lauded for their role in such an endeavour. Due to their conservation work,
      the number of this species in Assam has reportedly shown a marginal increase
      from 250 in 2005. The low intensity of the increase is not surprising,
      dolphins being mammals and thus with longer gestation period. Moreover,
      conservation of an aquatic species is fraught with difficulties not
      associated with land-based species. Rivers being free-flowing, aquatic
      animals are not sedentary and cannot be confined to protected reserves. The
      sole recourse for conservation agencies is to raise the level of awareness
      among people around habitats as to the possibility of species extinction.
      That Aaranyak has developed a network of community-based volunteers in
      dolphin inhabited areas is a right step in this direction. Equally important
      is that man-induced interference in the habitats of aquatic species like the
      river dolphin be kept to a minimum, mega hydro-electrical projects being a
      major culprit in destroying aquatic fauna. The proposed seismic survey of
      the Brahmaputra river bed by Oil India Limited is another case in point.
      Because of inadequate precedents, it is imperative that an impact assessment
      study, particularly on forms of aquatic life such as the Gangetic river
      dolphin, be embarked upon before such an operation is launched.

      United against elephant polo

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