India | Population of Ganges River dolphins drops in sanctuary devoted to their protection
The population of the endangered Gangetic river dolphin has declined at the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary (VGDS) in Bihar’s Bhagalpur district, India’s only sanctuary for its national aquatic animal. A survey conducted in December 2017 by Vikramshila Biodiversity Research and Education Centre (VBREC) — in partnership with researchers from Ashoka Trust for Research on Ecology and Environment (ATREE), Bangalore and Wild Life Institute of India (WII) Dehradun — found that the number of dolphins in the sanctuary had declined to 154 from 207 in 2015.
Sunil Choudhary is the coordinator of VBREC at Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University. VBREC has been regularly conducting surveys in the dolphin sanctuary spread over 60 kilometres along the Ganga. An expert on dolphins, with over two and half decades of research and field experience, Choudhary said the declining population showed up in the last two surveys in 2016 and 2017, compared to the 2015 survey. “Every year we do two surveys in the sanctuary. One thing is clear: 2015 onwards we see a declining trend of dolphin population. We are currently busy doing the 2018 survey.”