Sunday, December 5, 2010

Punjab's Harike Wetlands to Undergo Bio-Monitoring Project

Indus River dolphin

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has recently made a decision to conduct a bio-monitoring project in the Harike Wetlands in Punjab's Amritsar district. The reason for that is because there had been reported sightings of rare and highly endangered Indus River dolphins three years ago. An official for the Punjab Forest and Wildlife Preservation stated that WWF researchers had submitted their project's proposal to the department. He further added that the dolphins' presence indicated that the wetlands' ecosystem is very helpful for other native wildlife species. Furthermore, Firozpur Divisional Forest Officer Sanjeev Tiwari stated that as many as six dolphins had been sighted. He also added that this winter will see a large number of greylag geese, which suggests that the water quality has improved. In addition to dolphins, the project will also focus on smooth-coated otters and seven species of turtles. According to Chief Wildlife Warden Gurbaj Singh, the project will not only obtain data to show any increase or decrease in numbers of previously known species but also focus on new species and ones threatened to extinction. The project is also going to cover the aspect of pollution, which has been the biggest threat to the wetlands. One of the two rivers, Satluj, is said to be polluted compared to the much cleaner Beas River.

I'm extremely proud to see what this project conducted by the WWF is going to cover in this unique ecosystem. India's Punjab province has always been viewed as the center of agriculture, due to its fertile land. Because of this, there are not very many wildlife habitats. The Harike Wetlands happen to be one of the few wild places left in the province. But what is really striking is that the wetlands happen to contain the Indus River dolphin, the relative of the Ganges River dolphin. Both of these dolphins are highly endangered, due to habitat degradation and have to be securely protected. The reason is because both of them and their relatives in the Amazon are said to be indicators of polluted and non-polluted water. That is, if their numbers are increasing, it shows that a river is not polluted and if their numbers are decreasing, then a river is polluted. In other words, these extraordinary mammals play a major role in the wetlands' ecosystem. I have a very good feeling that this project will be a step in helping conserve Punjab's wetlands, and hopefully be an influence to other conservation projects in saving India's wetlands and their inhabitants.

View article here 

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