Project Dolphin

The government announced the plan to launch Project Dolphin. The proposed project is aimed at saving both river and marine dolphins.

Project Dolphin

What Will Project Dolphin Do?

  • The Project Dolphin will be on the lines of Project Tiger, which has helped increase the tiger population. Special Conservation program needs to be taken up for Gangetic Dolphin which is national aquatic animal and indicator species for the river Ganga spread over several states.
  • So far, the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), which implements the government’s flagship scheme Namami Ganga, has been taking some initiatives for saving dolphins. Now, Project Dolphin is expected to be implemented by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

What is the Gangetic Dolphin?

  • The Gangetic River system is home to a vast variety of aquatic life, including the Gangetic dolphin.
  • The Gangetic dolphin is one of five species of river dolphin found around the world. It is found mainly in the Indian subcontinent, particularly in Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu River systems.
  • The Conservation Action Plan for the Ganges River Dolphin, 2010-2020, describes male dolphins as being about 2-2.2 metres long and females as a little longer at 2.4-2.6 m. An adult dolphin could weigh between 70 kg and 90 kg. The breeding season of the Gangetic dolphin extends from January to June. They feed on several species of fishes, invertebrates etc.

Why is it important to save Dolphins?

  • Construction of dams, barrages & increasing pollution have led to a decline in population of aquatic animals in rivers in general and dolphins in particular.
  • Aquatic life is an indicator of the health of river ecosystems. As the Gangetic dolphin is at the top of the food chain, protecting the species and its habitat will ensure conservation of aquatic lives of the river.

Have other Governments Used Aquatic Life As an indicator of the Health of a River System?

  • Globally, there have been such examples. For instance, the Rhine Action Plan (1987) of the International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine (ICPR) — representing Switzerland, France, Germany, Luxemburg and the Netherlands — brought back the salmon. The return of the migratory fish is taken as an indicator of the river’s improved health.
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