In a significant stride towards creating awareness for conserving the endangered gangetic dolphin, the state Forest department for the first time in the state has come up with a dedicated centre in its south east circle at Katwa in East Burdwan. “Till date there was no centre for keeping an eye on any sort of aquatic animals in the normal river system. Our department never had any range office located close to the river. It is an attempt on our part for awareness generation and monitoring of dolphins involving the local people and NGO’s,” said Ravikant Sinha, state Chief Wildlife Warden.
The department will soon start creating awareness among the fishermen so that they install dolphin repelling units in their fishing nets to prevent the freshwater mammal from getting trapped in their fishing nets.
In recent times, there have been reports of several dolphin sightings in Katwa near the confluence of river Ajoy and Hooghly which prompted the department to choose the location for setting up the centre.
The department has already procured a land near the river from the local administration where a range office will be set up.
The department will also use a speed boat for monitoring and quick rescue of dolphin in case of emergency.
State Forest minister Rajib Banerjee inaugurated the speed boat asked his department officials to examine the feasibility of setting up a dolphin breeding centre there.
“Gangetic river dolphin is India’s national aquatic animal but its population is dwindling due to various factors. So it is really a welcome move on the part of the state Forest department,” said Kailash Chandra, Director of Zoological Survey of India.
The mammals are killed at an alarming rate with wildlife officials claiming that poachers kill them for their flesh, fat and oil.