River dolphins living in a stretch of the Ganges in the Bihar area were reported to have increased from 175 to 223. The count was performed by Vikramshila Biodiversity Research and Education Centre (VBREC) of Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University (TMBU). Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary is where the endangered dolphins live, and it is supposed to be a protected area for them. It is about fifty kilometers in length and was designated in 1991.
Ganges river dolphins are still hunted by some fisherman for the meat and oil. The oil is used sometimes as an ointment and aphrodisiac. It isn’t likely to have any particular effect and sounds more like superstitions humans have made about consuming animals or animal parts based on unfounded traditional beliefs. Since the 1980s there may have been over 10,000 Ganges river dolphins, yet now there may only be 2,000. Pollution of the Ganges with chemicals, and dam construction also have contributed to the steep decline. The Bihar government has set up a task force for river dolphin conservation. In February another dolphin count will be conducted.
Bihar’s economy is mainly agricultural, and employs about eighty percent of all workers there. The government is trying to organize more organic farming so if that practice gains popularity, perhaps there will be less pollution of the Ganges, which obviously would be better for all the aquatic wildlife, including the river dolphins.
Image Credit: 7 Wonders of India