The Jal Shakti Ministry on Monday released a guide for the safe rescue and release of stranded Ganges river dolphins. The document has been prepared by the Turtle Survival Alliance and the Environment, Forest and Climate Change Department (EFCCD) of the Uttar Pradesh Government. The guide has been drawn from years of experience of rescuing 25 Ganges river dolphins stranded in irrigation canals.
The Ganges river dolphin is the national aquatic animal of India and is listed as ‘endangered’ under the IUCN Red List Assessments, Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act (1972), Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The species, whose global population is estimated at 4,000, is mostly found in the Indian subcontinent. The dolphins often accidentally enter canals in northern India and are unable to swim up against the gradient. They are also vulnerable to harm by people.
The manual is endorsed by the IUCN Cetacean Specialist Group.
Best practices on crowd control, dolphin capture from canals and handling, transfer, transport and release are part of the guide.
“Found throughout the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India and Bangladesh, the Ganges river dolphin [ Platanista gangetica gangetica] is a global priority and is also an indicator of healthy aquatic systems,” said Shailendra Singh, director of Turtle Survival Alliance, India.
The guide was also simultaneously released via local fishermen at the Ghaghra river, a prime habitat where most of the rescued dolphins were released in the past few years.