Gangetic Dolphin and Indus river Dolphin are classified as two subspecies under South Asian River dolphins (Platanista gangetica). This article will discuss these species, including a Map showing the distribution of Gangetic Dolphin and Indus river Dolphin in India. You can also download the Map from our Telegram channel from the link given at the end of this article.
Table of Contents
South Asian River Dolphin
- The South Asian river dolphin Platanista gangetica. It is currently composed of two subspecies that occur in geographically separate, adjacent, freshwater river systems:
- Indus river dolphin
- Gangetic river dolphin
- The Indus river dolphin, which is endemic to the Indus River system principally in Pakistan. Until recently dolphins were believed to be endemic to Pakistan, However, a viable population of Indus dolphins was discovered in the Harike wildlife sanctuary of Punjab as well as in the lower Beas River in 2007.
- And the Ganges river dolphin, inhabits only the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna, and nearby Karnaphuli-Sangu River systems of Bangladesh, India, and Nepal.
- Indus and Ganges river dolphins each number only a few thousand individuals, have suffered extensive declines in distribution, and are both listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
- Indus and Ganges river dolphins look very different to most other dolphins and are superficially similar to each other.
- Indus and Ganges River dolphins are classified as two subspecies under South Asian River dolphins (Platanista gangetica).
- This obligate freshwater dolphin is categorized as Endangered on the IUCN Red List due to a decline in both its range and population size.
Indus River Dolphin
Until recently, these river dolphins were believed to be endemic to Pakistan. However, a viable population of Indus dolphins was discovered in the Harike wildlife sanctuary of Punjab and the lower Beas River in 2007. Since its discovery, the Punjab government in association with the WWF-India is researching the habitat use, current distribution and population of Indus river dolphins.
Now the state of Punjab is about to start the Census of one of the world’s most threatened cetaceans, the Indus River dolphin.
Indus River Dolphin
- Scientific Name: Platanista gangetica minor
- IUCN status: Endangered.
- They live for at least 30 years and grow over 2 metres in length.
- Indus river dolphins are believed to have originated in the ancient Tethys Sea. When the Tethys sea dried up approximately 50 million years ago, these dolphins were forced to adapt to its only remaining habitat of rivers.
- Today, the Indus River dolphin can only be found in the lower parts of the Indus River in Pakistan and River Beas, the tributary of the Indus River in Punjab, India.
- These dolphins have adapted to life in the muddy river and are functionally blind.
- The Indus River dolphin relies on echolocation to navigate, communicate and hunt their prey including prawns, catfish, and carp.
- Indus River dolphin has been declared as the national mammal of Pakistan, and the state aquatic animal of Punjab, India.
The Ganges river dolphin is discontinuously distributed in the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of South Asia from the base of the Himalayan foothills to the Bay of Bengal.
Extensive population fragmentation has resulted from the widespread construction of barrages. Although there is no credible estimate of dolphin abundance for the Ganges system, the largest subpopulation probably occurs between the Farakka Barrage, near the India/Bangladesh border, and barrages in the mainstream and Kosi, Son, Gandak, Ghaghara and Yamuna tributaries, as well as their large affluents, which include the Sanctuary in the Ganges mainstream.
- Gangetic Dolphin is primarily found in the Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers and their tributaries in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal.
- Gangetic Dolphins prefer deep waters in and around the confluence of rivers.
- These Gangetic Dolphins also act as an indicator of the health status of the freshwater ecosystem as they can only thrive in freshwater ecosystems.
- The Gangetic dolphin is India’s national aquatic animal.
- They are essentially blind.
- These Ganges Dolphins hunt by emitting ultrasonic sounds from their mouths, these sound waves bounces off of fish and other prey, enabling the Gangetic Dolphins to see an image in their mind. That’s why Gangetic Dolphin is also called ‘susu’.
- IUCN Status: Endangered
- CITES Appendix I
- Wildlife (Protection), Act 1972: Schedule 1.
- Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary, Bihar is the only sanctuary for the conservation of Gangetic dolphins in India.
|Scientific Name||Platanista gangetica gangetica|
|Population||Less than 1800 (1200 to 1800)|
|Length||Up to 2.70 m (Female), 2.12 m (Male)|
Conservation Status of Gangetic Dolphin
|Wildlife (Protection), Act 1972||Schedule I.|
|Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)||Appendix I|
|Convention on Migratory Species (CMS)||Appendix II|
Steps Taken to Conserve Gangetic Dolphin
- Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary has been established in Bihar for conserving the species.
- The National Mission for Clean Ganga has declared 5th October as National Ganga River Dolphin Day to raise awareness in people to conserve the species.
- Project Dolphin in line with Project Tiger will be started soon by the Government of India. The Prime Minister of India announced in his Independence Day Speech 2020.
- An action plan to conserve the species is being followed by GOI – The Conservation Action Plan for the Ganges River Dolphin 2010-2020, It identifies threats to Gangetic Dolphins and the impact of various threats like river traffic, irrigation canals and depletion of prey-base on Dolphins populations in India.
Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary
In August 1991, the Bihar State Government designated a 60 km segment of the Ganges River between Sultanganj to Kahalgaon as the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary under authority conferred by the Government of India in the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. The Sanctuary is the only protected area established specifically for the protection of Ganges river dolphins or susu.
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