Panel to investigate death of two dolphins in UP's Bulandshahr

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A committee of five officials, including members of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and WWF India, has been formed under the chairmanship of the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) to probe the death of two dolphins in the Narora area in Bulandshahr.

The death of two dolphins in five days has evoked concern among experts about the protection of this highly endangered fresh water species in the Upper Gangetic Basin.

The chief conservator (forest) of west zone, N.K. Jaanu said, "I have directed the panel to submit its report in two days and make arrangements for a proper postmortem of the dolphins."

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A dolphin was found dead in the lower Ganga canal near Ramghat bridge on Tuesday and, earlier, on October 9, another dolphin was found dead near Narora village.

The total population of dolphins in the Upper Gangetic Basin (176-km stretch of the Ganga between Bijnore and Narora barrages) is 41, as per the latest joint survey by WWF India and the forest department.

Uttar Pradesh chief wildlife warden Sunil Pandey said that a committee of senior officials would be set up to investigate the frequent deaths of dolphins.

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Pandey said forest officials and staff needed to be more vigilant to protect these highly endangered species, which had been included in Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Act.

Sandeep Behera, consultant at the National Ganga Clean Mission (NGMC) said, "We must put an effective check on the frequent deaths of dolphins."

He said the stretch of the Ganga between Narora and Garhmukteshwar was declared a Ramsar site (wetland site of international importance) because of these dolphins and the community's participation in their conservation.

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He regretted that officials could not develop a management plan for the site in the past 15 years.

Important sites are called Ramsar sites because of the Ramsar Convention, an intergovernmental environmental treaty established in 1971 by UNESCO, which came into force in 1975.

A senior forest official said, "Prima facie, illegal fishing in the river seems to be the reason for the deaths of these two dolphins."

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As dolphins are mammals, they need to come out of the water every three to four minutes to breathe. Blind by birth, they differentiate between light and dark by using sonar rays. They detect and escape obstacles inside the water through the rebound rays.

However, fishermen use nylon nets and the sonar rays pass through these. As a result, there is no rebound and the dolphins are unable to detect the nets, getting entangled in them and then die of suffocation.

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