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Government notifies Ganges dolphin as national aquatic animal

New Delhi, May 18 (Calcutta Tube) The critically-endangered Ganges river dolphin has been notified as India’s national aquatic animal, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said Tuesday.

‘By giving the sub-species the national aquatic animal status, we hope to raise public awareness and support, especially among the younger generation, for its conservation and protection,’ Ramesh said.

The Ganges river dolphin inhabits the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India and Bangladesh. It is estimated that their total population is around 2,000.

‘In India, the Ganges river dolphin is threatened by river water pollution and siltation, accidental entanglement in fishing nets, and poaching for their oil. In addition, alterations to the rivers in the form of barrages and dams are separating the population,’ he said.

Various organisations, including the World Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWF-India) in Uttar Pradesh, have initiated programmes for conservation and re-introduction of the river dolphin.

Dolphins are among one of the oldest creatures in the world along with some species of turtles, crocodiles and sharks. Ganges river dolphins are generally blind and catch their prey in a unique manner. They emit an ultrasonic sound which reaches the prey. The dolphin then registers this image in its brain and subsequently catches hold of its prey.

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