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| Last Updated:04/06/2020

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WWF to step up protection of Indus river dolphins

 Twelve years after spotting the Indus river dolphin in Harike wetlands, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has partnered with a private bank to protect the endangered species and its habitat.WWF-India wetlands and water policy director (rivers) Suresh Babu told TOI on Monday that they needed to develop a management plan for the conservation of dolphins by involving local community and engaging them to be the custodians of these dolphins.

In December 2007, the fresh water dolphin was sighted in the Harike Wetland and Wildlife Sanctuary for the first time. Authorities had then spotted two dolphins, which were believed to be either a mating pair or an adult mother with its young one.

Dolphins are an indicator of a healthy river system. India is one of the few countries in the world that has two fresh water dolphin species - the Gangetic river dolphin and the Indus river dolphin, sub-species of South Asian river dolphin. Indus river dolphins are found in the Indus river system and the Beas river is their only habitat in the country. The dolphin is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).WWF senior project officer Geetanjali Kanwar said they counted four dolphins, including three adults and a calf, in the last survey in the Beas conservation reserve.

Suresh said the population could now be between five and eight The project officer informed that they had proposed the forest department to recommend the state government to declare dolphins as the state aquatic animal.

Suresh said DCB Bank and WWF-India had announced a partnership to conserve the dolphins in Beas conservation reserve, while working closely with the department of forests and wildlife preservation. “We will implement initiatives around education, awareness and community to protect the species and its habitat, and ensure conservation measures for its long-term survival,” he said.

He said WWF-India, as part of its partnership, would also implement its water school programme to build awareness among students on the need for conservation of natural resources across 30 schools in four districts along the Beas conservation reserve.

Source: Times of India Dated: 10.06.2019