Final Count of Dolphins in Uttar Pradesh: 671Lucknow: WWF-India, one of India’s leading conservation organizations with programmes and projects spread across the country, in partnership with the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department and under the aegis of the HSBC - supported “Rivers for Life, Life for Rivers” program has concluded a three day awareness program, “My Ganga, My Dolphin” in and around Uttar Pradesh from 5th to 7th October 2012. The campaign, being launched to survey the number of Gangetic river dolphins present across a 2500 km stretch of the river Ganga and its tributaries (Geruwa, Ghaghra, Saryu, Rapti, Chambal, Yamuna, Ken, Betwa), was also to raise awareness among local communities in and around the banks of the Ganga about the presence and conservation of the national aquatic mammal as well as help in capacity building of stakeholders associated with the conservation of the mammal. The campaign declaration was made today, 7th October 2012, by Shri Akhilesh Yadav, Hon'ble Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. The closing ceremony of the campaign also witnessed facilitation of Shri. Brijender Singh, Shri Akhilesh Kumar and Shri Ram Swaroop as ‘Dolphin Ambassadors’ for their exemplary work in protecting dolphins of their respective regions in UP.
The Ganges River Dolphin (Platanista Gangetica) commonly known as the "Susu" or “Soons” is an endemic fauna of the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna river systems and is one of the four freshwater dolphins of the world. Preferring to stay in deep waters in and around the confluence of two or more rivers, the mammal shares its habitat with crocodiles, freshwater turtles and wetland birds many of which are fish eaters and are potential competitors with dolphins. Often known as the “Tiger of the Ganges” the river dolphin is an indicator animal and has the same position in a river ecosystem as a tiger in a forest, its presence indicating a sign of a healthy river ecosystem.
The findings of the three day survey across 2,500 KM stretch was announced by Shri Akhilesh Yadav, Chief Minister of UP. The survey record 671 (six hundred and seventy one) Gangetic river Dolphins in various rivers of Uttar Pradesh. The break up is as follows: Ganga-261, Geruwa-39, Ghagra- 231, Saryu- 16, Rapti-8, Chambal- 85, Yamuna-31, Ken- 0 and Betwa- 0
Talking about the campaign Shri Akhilesh Yadav, Hon'ble Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh said, "I appreciate the efforts being taken to conserve the Gangetic dolphins through the "My Ganga, My Dolphin" campaign. I would like to share that my government, along with focusing on preserving the environment, is also consistently working towards conserving the nature and wild life. We would like to promote public participation through eco tourism to link people to nature. My Government will provide all support for the conservation of Gangetic River Dolphin."
Naina Lal Kidwai, Country Head HSBC India and Director Asia Pacific: said, "HSBC is delighted to be associated with the 'My Ganga My Dolphin' campaign which is an integral part of our commitment to the overall mission of conservation of our water resources. As we all know the Ganga has enormous relevance to India with millions dependent on the river for their livelihood. Besides it is home to several natural species and a national asset attracting tourists from across the globe. We believe in preserving the Ganga in all its finery and this project is crucial for our endeavour."
Dr Rupak De, PCCF (Wildlife), UP FOREST DEPARTMENT said, “This campaign was the first firm step towards developing a Total Conservation Plan for our reverred mother Ganga."
Mr. Ravi Singh, SG & CEO, WWF-India, said, “This campaign has taken the shape of one of the biggest participatory surveys on Gangetic River Dolphins. 18 teams with roughly 150 people surveying the Ganga system is three days was indeed a challenging task.We are finding very interesting trends in terms of Dolphin population. This time some stretches have reported lesser number of Dolphins whereas wherever there had been some interventions by communities, forest departments, and others, the dolphin population has been reported to be stable. In Upper Ganga from Bijnore to Narora; Chambal and Katarniaghat Sanctuary which is a protected area, the population has stabilised. In Yamuna, and Ghagra where the population is facing lot of threats due to various development pressures, the population has shifted. WWF-India would be glad to work with the Govt and local communities to develop a framework for conservation of Dolphins and aquatic biodiversity in rivers of Uttar Pradesh including the Ganga”