Endangered dolphins spotted in Bihar’s Mahananda river
The survey was the first official attempt of documenting suitability of habitat and preparing inventory of biodiversity of rivers apart from population estimation of endangered Ganga river dolphins and threats concerning the species.
Fourteen endangered Ganga river dolphins were spotted in Mahananda by a team of Vikramshila Bio-diversity Research and Education Centre (VBREC), TM Bhagalpur University, during a survey of the river conducted recently.
Spotting of 14 dolphins, including seven adults and six subadults, has been recorded by the survey team in a 45 kilometre stretch of the river. Besides Mahananda, Parman, Bakra, Kankai and Mechi rivers were also surveyed but no dolphins were spotted there.
The survey was the first official attempt of documenting suitability of habitat and preparing inventory of biodiversity of rivers apart from population estimation of endangered species and threats concerning the species.
As part of the union government plan of conservation and restoration of aquatic species in river Ganga being implemented by the Wildlife Institute of India and Bihar government in state, the VBREC research team had been entrusted the responsibility of survey work by the Araria forest division.
The survey work was undertaken in March-April this year and the report was submitted to the state government department of environment and forest recently.
The period in which survey was conducted is considered significant by the nature activists involved in the conservation of Ganga river dolphins.
Sunil Kumar Choudhary, VBREC coordinator, who is involved in dolphin research work besides conservation of endangered species since long, confirmed lean season spotting of dolphins in Mahananda and said that it is definitely encouraging.
Though there is no previous documented information regarding dolphin population in rivers of Mahananda basin, however, it is assumed that the endangered specie spotted during the survey is residing population of the river, Choudhary said.
Approximately, 153 km stretch of Mahananda flows through the state but only 29 % stretch of the river flowing through Araria forest division was covered in the survey, he added.
Post-monsoon survey of the entire stretch of the river could lead to citing of more dolphins, he added.
Choudhary also said that during the recommendations of survey, it has been suggested that for assessing actual population of endangered species in Mahananda and its tributaries, a post monsoon survey is required.
Though there were some deep points in the stretch of river Parman covered in the survey, however, no dolphins could be cited even at the deep spots, he informed.
Locals living in the area adjoining Parman river however told members of the survey team that they usually cite dolphins river.
A post-monsoon survey of Mahananda could substantially add to overall estimated population of endangered species.
The members of survey team included Subhasish Dey, Amit Kumar, Kanhiya Kumar Das, Akshay Kumar, and Sagar Sahni, all associated with VBREC. The survey was assisted by the forest department staff.