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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Gangetic dolphin’s preservation to get boost

SILCHAR, Oct 11: “The protection and preservation of Gangetic dolphins will get a boost with the declaration of the animal as a national aquatic”, said Pawlen Singh, convenor of Cachar College Science Society.

He made this observation with particular reference to Barak Valley where the dolphin is enlisted as endangered and on the verge of extinction. If there is no sincere and serious efforts by the Forest Department and the naturalists to save it, the day is not far off when like many species, dolphin will also become extinct. According to records of the Forest Department, even three decades ago, the number of dolphins in the river system of this valley have been quite impressive. Pawlen said with the fast depletion of greenery, growing human population and pollution, the number of dolphins has been on the decline. According to their survey, 14 dolphins were spotted in river Barak all along 115 km route starting from Narayandahar to Harinagar where the river bifurcates into Kushiara and Surma that finally meander into Bangladesh. The area surveyed included 12 km of hills and 103 km plains. During their survey of 2008 – 09, the number has come down to 8 only. “This decline in the population of dolphin is cause of enough concern”, pointed out Singh. There have been several instances in the past when the endangered animal has been hauled up from the rivers of this valley for commercial exploitation and in fact no preventive measures have been taken. Dolphin has disappeared from other major rivers. Like the vultures and other birds which once dotted the skyline of undivided Cachar, dolphins too have their play time in the rivers in sufficient number.

The focus now being on the protection and conservation of dolphins across the country, Singh hoped both the Forest Department and the NGOs of nature lovers will become active for the sake of whatever number remains of the animal.

Speaking about the efforts being made by Science Society, he said since its inception it has been carrying on systematic and sustained campaign against the destruction of the species by making people in general conscious about their own responsibility in this regard and to take the help of the administration in their conservation efforts.

Citing specific steps by their Society, he pointed out with the involvement of the Cachar administration and forest wing, the entire stretch of river Barak from Sonai to Silchar has been declared ‘habitat zone’ and fishing declared prohibited. Though the usual practice of handing over the stretches to lasses for fishing has been abandoned, it has its negative impact. The area of river declared as out of bound for fishing is now no man’s land with hundreds of fisher men spreading their nets, some quite harmful. This has to stop for which the Society will again move both the administration and the Forest Department. THE SENTINEL

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