Guwahati, Thursday, November 27, 2014
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Sand mining spelling doom of Gangetic dolphins
MobaraQUE hUSSAIN
 MIRZA, Nov 26 – Eminent environmentalist Dr Anwaruddin Choudhury has said that activities like unregulated sand mining and fishing in rivers like Kulsi and the Brahmaputra have been indirectly affecting the survival of the gangetic river dolphin (Platanista Gangetica) and that the Assam Government and the environmental bodies should come out with an effective mechanism to conserve the endangered aquatic mammal of the Brahmaputra and Ganges river systems in the Indian subcontinent.Talking to this correspondent on phone, Dr Choudhury, who has been working on Indian mammals since the last 30 years, said that fishing by some nets have been affecting the movement of the Gangetic dolphin in the Kulsi river, which has one of the thickest population of the species in the world.

“Gangetic dolphin adults and calf accidently die after being entangled in fishing nets in the Kulsi river and hence adequate measures need be taken by the concerned authority so that accidental killing of Gangetic dolphins could be avoided,” he opined .

Dr Choudhury further said that Gangetic dolphins were reported to have died after being entangled in big fishing nets in the Brahmaputra river also, hence adequate awareness needs be generated among the fishermen community living along the Brahmaputra.

The bio-sonar signals emitted by the Gangetic dolphin do not get reflected by the monofilament fibre nets and hence it cannot detect the monofilament nets ahead of it and thus get entangled. The monofilament fibre nets should be banned in the Brahmaputra and other Gangetic dolphin habitats for conservation of the rapidly depleting species. Organised poachers and selected fishermen have also been reportedly poaching Gangetic dolphins by using harpoons, nets and hooks for dolphin oil, which is a cause of serious concern.

Dr Choudhury urged the authority concerned to immediately nab the professional poachers and mete out exemplary punishment as per law.

Dr Choudhury said that sand mining had also been polluting the habitat of the Gangetic dolphin in the Kulsi river. Sand extraction needs to be done in selective places where the Gangetic dolphin distribution was nil. Sand mining in the Kulsi river should be regulated taking into consideration of the Gangetic dolphin conservation point of view, he said.

Dr Choudhury said that the 76-km stretch of the Kulsi river which has been flowing mainly through non-forested (non-protected) villages in Kamrup district of Assam, could be declared as a Community Reserve for conservation of the rare aquatic species.

He also ruled out frequent movement of tourist boats in the Gangetic dolphin colonies (habitat) saying that such movement of boats would disturb the highly sensitive Gangetic dolphin. He suggested that tourists may see Gangetic dolphins in the colonies from the bank of the Kulsi river and that the tourists could also see the Gangetic dolphins from the RCC bridge located at Kukurmara. He further suggested that the State Tourism Department could initiate conducted tours to the Kulsi river by giving wide publicity about the endangered species.

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