The Gangetic river dolphins in Brahmaputra are declining in numbers considerably and they are teetering on the brink of extinction.
According to local fishermen there has been a considerable decline in the population of the dolphin in the Brahmaputra over the years.
“We used to encounter the Gangetic dolphin while fishing in a long stretch from Pandu to Goalpara, but now-a-days, we hardly get any,” the fishermen told reporters here.
Locally known as ‘Sihu’, the species needs immediate attention for protection.
The fishermen believe pollution could be a reason behind the declining of dolphin population.
Around 12 Gangetic river dolphins were sighted in the stretch of Brahmaputra from Simina village to Balagaon village in Kamrup district during September last year, but a majority of them have disappeared during this year.
“Not a single growing calf of the Gangetic river dolphin has been sighted this year so far in the areas,” said Ainul Ali, a fisherman.
It is believed that those calves might have been poached or killed accidently by getting entangled in fishermen’s nets or get killed due to turbidity of water.
“Around 10 Gangetic dolphins were sighted in the stretch of the Brahmaputra from Simina to Balagaon in Palasbari in Kamrup district last year, but now only four-five of them are there. Turbidity of water of the Brahmaputra river has resulted in reduction in size of the dolphin population,” said Hasmat Ali, a fisherman with a 50-year long experience of fishing in the Brahmaputra.
Experts said the dolphins might have migrated for a safer place in view of contamination of water.
“Although I have no clinching evidence in this regard, yet I believe that dolphins have migrated to safer places,” said an expert adding that loss of habitat due to damming of rivers for irrigation and electricity generation, coupled with industrial activities are instrumental for shrinking of dolphin population.
Gangetic River Dolphin (Platanista gangetica) is an endangered species under Schedule I of Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and its killing is prohibited.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the Gangetic river dolphin as an endangered aquatic mammal of the world on its Red List of Threatened Species.