‘Dolphin’ man crusades to save national aquatic animal

PATNA, Sept 10:
Popularly known as ‘Dolphin man’, Patna University zoologist Prof R K Sinha has been waging a battle over the past three decades to save the dolphin – the country’s national marine mammal.
“There are only about 2500 dolphins in the Ganga river basin according to a 2006 survey out of which 60 per cent are found exclusively in Bihar,” Sinha told.
The dolphins, particularly of the Gangetic variety, were found at the confluence of the Ganga and Saryu rivers at Doriganj in Saran district, the confluence of the Ganga and Gandak confluence at Sonepur in the same district and the confluence of Ganga and Koshi at Kursela in Katihar district.
The decreasing number of dolphins because of water pollution led the Centre to declare it as national aquatic animal in May 2010 and take steps for its protection and conservation, Sinha said.
The central government also recognized dolphins as a highly endangered species under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, Sinha said.
The zoologist, who has been working on a campaign to save the dolphin since his students days in 1970s, said that decrease in depth of rivers due to increasing siltation and rise in effluents have led to reduction in habitat of the mammal and decline in its population.
Sinha said that the state government has proposed to act on his action plan and he would soon submit a report recommending measures for protection of dolphins in Bihar.
He has also recommended roping in of local people as ‘dolphin mitra’ and launch of awareness campaign among students of schools and colleges.
The state government has in-principle consented to observe October five as the National Dolphin Day in Bihar, he said.
It has also agreed to set up a dolphin research centre in Patna to carry out research on dolphins, he said.
“The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biolology, Hyderabad, has set up a website with my help for a national awareness campaign about dolphins,” he said.
Sinha, who has written scores of research papers and books about dolphins, said that fishermen have been the biggest help in his research work.
He also urged reconsideration of the National Inland Waterways Authority’s proposal for shipment of coal from Haldia port to Kahlagaon in Bhagalpur to prevent river water pollution due to its adverse impact on marine life, including dolphins. (PTI)


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