By Brian Clark Howard
Conservation India reports that an endangered Ganges river dolphin (or Gangetic dolphin, Platanista gangetica gangetica), was killed by villagers in Assam this week. A fishmonger was seen selling the marine mammal’s meat at a roadside market in Lezai-Kalakhowa.
The Ganges river dolphin is the national aquatic animal of India. It lives in the freshwater of the Ganges and Brahmpautra Rivers in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
Conservation India warned, “Though legally the species enjoys protection status equal to that of a tiger, poor awareness, construction of dams that restrict their movement, hunting for food etc. are driving them to extinction.”
Ganges river dolphins are one of two subspecies that make up the South Asian river dolphin (Platanista gangetica). The other subspecies, Platanista gangetica minor, is called the Indus river dolphin and makes its home in the Indus River in Pakistan. The two groups were considered separate species until the late 1990s, when they were reclassified as subspecies.
Both dolphins are critically endangered. Like a number of other river dolphins around the world, they have long, pointed noses and prominent teeth. They have brownish, stocky bodies. The South Asian river dolphins are nearly blind, and navigate and find prey through echolocation.
Unlike all other cetaceans, the South Asian river dolphins primarily swim on their sides.
According to Conservation India, wildlife officials are investigating the recent illegal killing of the Ganges dolphin. Sanctuaries have been set up in the river to protect some habitat for the animal, although many challenges remain, including entanglement in fishing nets, pollution, overfishing of the dolphins’ prey, dams that restrict movements, and poaching. More....