Patna, Sep 4 (IANS) After initiating steps to conserve the Gangetic river dolphin, Bihar will celebrate Oct 5 as Dolphin Day to create awareness to save the endangered species that has been declared India's national aquatic animal.
"The state government has decided to celeberate Oct 5 as Dolphin Day," Chief Wildlife Warden D.K. Shukhla said.
With only about 2,000 Gangetic river dolphins left in India, down from tens of thousands just a few decades ago, Bihar's move will help strengthen conservation efforts.
"The Dolphin Day would be a part of the Wildlife Week that will be observed from Oct 2 to 8," Environment and Forest Department Secretary Dipak Kumar Singh said.
The government will rope in R.K. Sinha, an expert on Gangetic river dolphins and chairperson of the working group for dolphin conservation set up by the central government, along with researchers and several organizations working for the conservation of the mammal for the celebrations.
"We will also arrange to screen films on the dolphin and involve youth and students to spread out message of dolphin conservation," Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Bashir Ahmah Khan said.
The Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary, India's only such and spread over 50 km along the Ganges, is located in Bihar's Bhagalpur district.
Gangetic river dolphins are being killed at an alarming rate by poachers for their flesh as well as oil, which is used as an ointment and aphrodisiac. Their carcasses are regularly found on the river's banks.
The mammals fall under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act and have been declared an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Last year, the Bihar government decided to set up a task force for the conservation of the endangered species. Earlier this year, state government set up Gangetic dolphin research centre, the first such in the country.
The Gangetic river dolphin is one of the four freshwater dolphin species in the world. The other three are found in the Yangtze river in China, the Indus river in Pakistan and the Amazon river in South America.
The Gangetic river species - found in India, Bangladesh and Nepal - is blind and finds its way and prey in the river waters through echoes.
(Imran Khan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)