Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Myanmar will cooperate to enhance conservation of river dolphins in the region by jointly undertaking an awareness drive.
Freshwater dolphins, which are unique species found mainly in rivers of Asia and South America, are an endangered group. Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers in India are the main habitat of dolphin in India and are referred to as Gangetic dolphin.
Gangetic Dolphin, the national aquatic animal of India has been declared "endangered" by International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Dr JK Jena, DDG (Fisheries Science), ICAR, said that with less disturbance and interference, dolphins can thrive on their own and that has been proved during the lockdown.
"These animals do not realise boundaries and have tried to find habitat wherever possible. Hence, regional cooperation is very important in conserving them," Dr Jena said.
Director-General of Namami Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) Rajiv Ranjan Mishra said the mission to rejuvenate Ganga, which is the habitat of the bulk of Gangetic dolphin, is also linked to the conservation of the animal.
Namami Gange project, carried out by NMCG has given importance to biodiversity and ecological improvement, including dolphin conservation.
Experts from the four countries had jointly addressed a webinar in August titled "Exploring the impact of Covid-19 on the ecosystem health of rivers and its dolphin population: Present status and future strategy for conservation in India-Bangladesh-Myanmar-Nepal".
It was organised by Inland Fisheries Society of India, ICAR – Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute, National Mission for Clean Ganga, Professional Fisheries Graduates Forum (PFGF) and Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management Society under the aegis of Union Jal Shakti Ministry.
Mishra said these countries had planned to jointly observe the International Freshwater Dolphin Day on 24 October 2020, but have postponed on account of the festivals.
A fresh date will be decided later.
The article originally appeared on The Tribune India and has been slightly modified