National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), in collaboration with Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and WWF India Commemorates the Dolphin Day with a Consultation Aiming to improve the Ganga River Dolphin Population by 2030 | WWF India

National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), in collaboration with Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and WWF India Commemorates the Dolphin Day with a Consultation Aiming to improve the Ganga River Dolphin Population by 2030

Posted on
05 October 2019
A one-day workshop was organized by National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) in collaboration with WII and WWF-India on 5th Oct 2019 for developing a charter that aims for enhancing the population of Ganges River Dolphin by 2030. The workshop, with more than 100 attendees, included participants from all SMCGs, Forest Departments, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Climate Change (MoEF & CC), NGOs, Ganga ‘Mitras’ & ‘Praharis’ (volunteers), media and technical experts from Patna University, Vikramshila, WII, IITs and others.
Often referred to as the ‘Tiger of the Ganges’, the Ganges River Dolphin is one of the most charismatic mega-fauna species of the Indian subcontinent. Today, the total population of this species stands between 2500 to 3000, out of which more than 80% exist within India’s mighty Ganga river and its tributaries. Government of India decided to declare the Ganga River Dolphin as ‘the National Aquatic Animal’ in the first meeting of the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) on October 5, 2009.

The event which was designed to be an interactive forum to gather the collective wisdom and experiences of experts working on Ganga Dolphins, hydrology, ecology, water quality began with a welcome address by Shri. Ravi Singh, SG & CEO, WWF – India who shared, “It is a matter of pride to see that institutions, organizations, experts and communities are coming together to conserve the Ganga River Dolphin. We have lost Yangtze River Dolphin species which was found in the river in China and we should focus on protecting out remaining dolphin species including Ganga River Dolphins and Indus River Dolphins in India. We need to have models similar to Conservation Assured | Tiger Standard (CA|TS) for conservation of River Dolphins.”. Shri. Singh, while, applauding the role of Ganga Mitras and Praharis, shared that “Our experience from the past years of engagement shows that, if we keep people and species in the forefront of conservation planning and implementation, change is possible.”
 
Dr. S.A Hussain, Scientist G, WII highlighted action points that needs to be taken as priority, which are initiate state wise population surveys, setting up of Pas/reserve for dolphins, develop capacity of stakeholders, involve local communities in dolphin conservation and conduct education and awareness programs
 
Kailash Chandra, Geological Survey of India offered support from his organisation through various research and publications.

“NMCG has been relentlessly working for the conservation and protection of the species and giving its due support to the Ministry of Environment and Forest, and Climate Change, to develop robust Dolphin Actin Plans over the years. Shri. Mishra further shared “Based on some of the key observations from today’s consultation, a charter will be developed to enhance the Dolphin population, and develop enabling policies for the integration of Dolphin conservation at State and national level. NMCG looks forward to taking the required steps for the management of these Dolphin habitats in the Ganga basin.”, said Shri. Rajiv Ranjan Mishra – IAS, DG- NMCG, in his inaugural address to the gathering.

Siddhanta Das, IFS, DG Forest elaborated on importance of conserving endangered species. 21 species have been identified which require attention and 4 species amongst them which are Dancing Deer from Manipur, Great Indian Bustard, Sea Cow from Andaman and Gangetic Dolphin are critically endangered and given special funding through CAMPA for conservation. HE drew parallel with tiger conservation and success of tiger population increase ensures overall improvement of other species, greenery, soli and water. Similarly, dolphin conservation would e indicator of improved health of Gnaga and similar activities would e taken up.
 
To take the cause of conservation, following sets were released
  1. Conserving Gangetic Dolphin: Smart strategy implementation and adaptive management for Ganga river – The present document updates the current status of the gangetic dolphins and suggest priority areas for focused and improved conservation actions
  2. Ganga River Dolphin Posters: A set of six creative posters were released by WWF-India on the species’ habitat ecology, feeding and breeding biology. The posters connect conservation of water and saving Ganga River Dolphins. The posters will be disseminated through District Ganga Committees, water school programme to schools, institutions, Government departments and others stakeholders.
  3. Freshwater turtle and Tortoise identification cards: developed by TRAFFIC India along with WWF India and Turtle Survival Alliance to help law enforcement agencies and staff to accurately identify species aiding in taking appropriate legal action.
The consultation which was divided into three parallel sessions with experts, practitioners and communities deliberated on the following –
  1. Establishing the baselines and setting the goals with the objective on agreeing on methodology or methodologies for Dolphin census across the range states in India;
  2. Securing Dolphin habitats for establishing thresholds of river flows and quality in critical dolphin habitats and, potential gains for Dolphin Conservation through developing Conservation Assured Standards.
  3. Community led conservation for identifying enablers needed to mainstream the good practices in community led conservation, learnings from existing models of conservation and institutional framework for Government, NGOs, communities and businesses to work together.
The workshop also specially had a presentation from Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) on operational experience of rescue and protection of Gangetic dolphin. WWF-India presented lessons learned and impact of Conservation Assured | Tiger Standard (CA|TS), following which discussion was held on the possibility of developing a similar approach and adaption to conservation assured dolphin standard.

The closing session culminated in the development of a Ganga Dolphin Charter - a charter that will aim at stabilizing and doubling the population of the Ganga River Dolphins by 2030. This would also explore the possibility of conservation of Assured Dolphin Standard.
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For further information, please contact:
Mr. Suresh Babu:suresh@wwfindia.net
Ms. Shoma Stanly: sstanly@wwfindia.net

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