WWF-India partners University of Tokyo to understand Ganges River Dolphin better

Posted on 08 February 2007

New Delhi, February 8: WWF-India and University of Tokyo have come together to form a unique partnership to understand the behavioral pattern of the highly endangered Ganges River Dolphin. The Indian Institute of Technology Delhi is also a part of this partnership. Dolphin is endemic to the Ganga and Brahmaputra river system and is under severe threat due to excessive development pressure on the river.

Speaking at the press briefing, Ravi Singh, Secretary General and CEO, WWF-India, said, “We are happy to work with the University of Tokyo as our understanding about the Ganges River Dolphin will increase considerably. The results from the study will broaden our knowledge base and help us focus our conservation initiatives in the Upper Ganga region and other Dolphin habitats.

At the briefing, the team shared data regarding the behavior and movement pattern of Ganges river dolphin collected through advanced non invasive techniques about this blind mammal. This method has been successfully used in the Chilika Lake, Orissa, for the Irrawaddy Dolphin where numerous previously unknown details about the dolphin were studied. This technique also has the potential to acoustically recognize other species of Dolphin.

Traditional methods like visual observation depend on visibility, physical proximity and may not always come with correct statistics. The new technology developed by the University of Tokyo, however, is based on specially designed underwater acoustic device called hydrophone which measures the sonar pulses as “clicks”. These passive methods can also be automated that allow day-night observation in turbid waters without causing any disturbance to the animal.

Explaining the innovative technique, Professor Ura from the University of Tokyo said,
“Precise underwater movements and sonar-range of dolphins can be observed even in shallow water with a 5-hydrophone system. An acoustic data logger system has also been demonstrated that can count the number of dolphins.”

The result findings will help sharpen and increase the scope of WWF-India’s already well established River Dolphin programme. WWF-India’s work, in partnership with local community members in Narora has shown encouraging results as the pressure on the river system and the dolphin has come down significantly. Our work has also resulted in improved living conditions of villagers thus strengthening the link between conservation and livelihoods.


For further information:
Anshuman Atroley, Communications Manager,
WWF-India Phone: +91 11 41504797 Email: aatroley@wwfindia.net

Dr. Sandeep Behera, Coordinator, Freshwater Species
Freshwater and Wetlands, WWF-India
Phone: 91 11 41504813
Email: sbehera@wwfindia.net  

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