Here’s some more news on India’s national aquatic animal, the Gangetic dolphin.
Last week, India’s ministry of environment and forests banned creation of any dolphinarium across the country that might attract tourists with dolphin shows or similar such commercial use of the friendly mammal, elevated to the status of national aquatic animal less than four years back.
The ministry’s Central Zoo Authority said in a circular that various state governments and tourism development corporations had been receiving proposals to develop such dolphinarium in recent years. But since India’s Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 says that captive animals can be kept for exhibition only in ‘zoos’ (that includes circus and rescue centres), the dolphinarium will fall under the definition of ‘zoo’.
The ministry also observed that since the endangered Gangetic dolphin is India’s national aquatic animal and a highly intelligent and sensitive species, it is morally unacceptable to keep it captive for entertainment purpose. The ministry has advised state governments to reject any such proposal for dolphinarium by organizations or agencies.
The Gangetic dolphin was accorded the national aquatic animal status in 2009 when the 100 million year old species was found to face the danger of extinction within the next decade if not protected ferociously.
Poaching, accidental killing, dolphin-fisherman competition for fish, use of dolphin products, construction of dams and barrages and pollution of the river are named as some of the biggest threats to the dolphin population.
At last count, India had around 2,300 Gangetic dolphins. The World Wide Fund for Nature had said in 2009 before any large-scaled national intervention that its population was declining at a rate of 10 per cent annually.
India then launched a decadal programme (The Conservation Action Plan for the Gangetic Dolphin 2010-2020) which noted: “Just as the tiger represents the health of the forest and the snow leopard represents the health of the mountainous regions, the presence of the Dolphin in a river system signals its good health and biodiversity.”
Here’s hoping that all the action bears fruit and makes life somewhat better for the Gangetic dolphin by 2020.