Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bihar to Set Up Asia's First River Dolphin Research Center

A Ganges River dolphin being measured

It has been recently reported that the Indian state of Bihar is planning to establish Asia's first research center dedicated to the Ganges River dolphins. An official at the chief minister's office stated that it would be set up in the capital city of Patna, where dozens of these unique aquatic creatures can still be seen in the stretch of the Ganges River near the city. The man behind the idea is R.K Sinha, a Ganges River dolphin expert and chairperson of a working group for dolphin conservation formed by the central government. The state government of Bihar gave approval to the suggestions brought by the nation's apex planning commission of setting up a dolphin research center near Patna University. Mr. Sinha, who showed Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia the dolphins this February, acknowledged to move the proposal forward offering financial assistance to build the center. When came Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, he applauded the proposal and suggested the planning secretary to advance with the project. According to Gopal Sharma, a scientist for the Zoological Survey of India, the two river dolphin habitats around Patna are an assemblage of rivers Ganges and Gandak near the Mahatma Gandhi Setu and near the pontoon bridge at Danapur. He further added that around thirty dolphins can be seen in these two locations, between which Patna University is located. Thus, making it an ideal location for such a research center. Among the objectives of the research center include carrying out research activities related to biological aspects and dolphin census in all rivers.
A river dolphin in Bihar's Vikramshila Gangetic River Dolphin Sanctuary

I'm extremely proud to see what measures India is taking to help its river dolphin population. Recent findings have shown that only about 2,000 of these magnificent marine mammals left in the nation, out of which 1,000 are in Bihar. The state is famous for being home to the Vikramshila Gangetic River Dolphin Sanctuary, the fourth largest dolphin sanctuary in Asia. I feel that this establishment of the river dolphin research center is a major step in conserving and protecting the last remaining populations of the Ganges River dolphin. However, it is uncertain what might the future be for the Indus River dolphin which makes its home in Pakistan. This is why I also believe it is important that India and Pakistan should work together, in order to revive the river dolphin populations in both of their rivers. This way, both species will be saved from the brink of extinction.

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