GUWAHATI, June 20 – Expressing concern over the plight of the highly endangered gangetic river dolphin, due to habitat degradation and killings, public activist Prof Deven Dutta has questioned the role of the Forest Department and the State Government in ensuring a secure future for the elusive river dolphin. The river dolphin is both Assam’s State aquatic animal as well as the national aquatic animal of India.
In a statement, Prof Dutta said that the last refuge of the river dolphin was restricted to a few patches of the rivers Brahmaputra, Subansiri, Kolohi (Kulsi) and Dikhow, but growing industrial and anthropogenic pressures on the river ecology were causing degradation to even the few remaining habitats.
Pointing out that there had been media reports of open sale of river dolphin meat at Bihpuria last year besides the recent death of a river dolphin along with mass killing of fish following poisonous contamination of water in the Kolohi river caused by unscrupulous elements, Prof Dutta said that it was most regrettable that the Forest Department and the State Government failed to accord any semblance of protection to the animal.
Prof Dutta said that the government would have done well to develop river dolphin-sighting areas as eco-tourism hubs which would also have ensured substantial revenue to the authorities.