Dolphin population in Karnali faces decline

  • Only six spotted in the river in recent times
  • Irrigation, fishing major threat to cetaceans

Jul 17, 2017-

Only six dolphins were spotted in the Karnali river during a recent inspection by the Bardiya National Park (BNP), which has raised concerns about the existence of the charismatic species, whose number in the 1980s was estimated to be a little less than 100, with the group of about 20 in the Karnali.

Conservationists are highly alarmed as not even a single dolphin was spotted in the Geruwa river, which starts few kilometres downstream from Chisapani after the Karnali river bifurcates. 

According to officials, the Ganges river dolphins (Platanista gangetica) were earlier found in Manaughat, Golaghat, Kothiyaghat and Geruwa river. 

Chief Conservation Officer of the BNP Ramesh Kumar Thapa said two dolphins have been found dead over the last three years. 

“The number of dolphins is declining due to haphazard fishing, habitat loss and other reasons,” said Thapa. 

Conservationists said the decline in number of dolphins started the Geruwa river changed its course eight years ago. 

Construction of Girijapuri dam is another reason for the decline dolphin population, they say. 

Local conservationist Ram Bahadur Shahi said dolphins cannot return to their original habitat after they are swept down the dam. “The concerned authorities should pay attention to dolphin conservation,” said Shahi. 

Published: 17-07-2017 08:23

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