Chandigarh, August 29
The state’s efforts to protect and conserve threatened Indus river dolphin has got the much-needed boost, as the aquatic mammal has been included in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
The Department of Forest and Wildlife Preservation had been pushing the case of Indus river dolphin, which was discovered in Harike and the lower Beas river system in 2007. Earlier, it was believed that Indus River Dolphin had become extinct in India, for it was not sighted for a long period.
Indus river dolphin (platanista gangetica minor) was thought to be a subspecies of Ganges dolphin (platanista gangetica gangetica). However, recent scientific studies have established that Indus river dolphin is a separate species with the name “platanista minor”.
Dolphin specialist Gill Braulik had, in March 2021, established that Indus dolphin was a separate species.
A comprehensive survey and population estimation carried out by the department in partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWF India) put the number of dolphins at seven to nine.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) RK Mishra said, “The small number of dolphin population makes it even more important to protect and conserve the species. Its inclusion in the Schedule I has given legal protection to conservation efforts.”
In the past, the department had carried out various activities, including surveys involving locals for generating awareness. Besides, it appointed “Beas Mitras” and declared Indus dolphin as the state aquatic animal of Punjab in 2019.
“The positive development will not only protect dolphins, but also their natural habitat,” added Mishra.
A comprehensive survey and population estimation carried out by the department in partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWF India) put the number of Indus dolphins at seven to nine.
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