Dwindling numbers

dolphins in Brahmaputra river are dying. A recent census conducted in the Guwahati-Bangladesh region has found that the dolphin ( Platanista gangetica) population in the Brahmaputra river system has decreased alarmingly to half the 1997 figure.

Chairperson and conservation biologist of Dolphin Conservation Society (dcs) Sujit Bairagi said river water dolphins were being poached for their oil, which is used as a strong bait to catch cat fish species. The oil also has curative powers.

Locally known as sisu , the river dolphins are also facing tremendous food crisis in the Brahmaputra as the river's fish resources are rapidly declining. This is because of the proliferating fishing activities. Points out Bairagi, "The state government has failed to restrict fishing during the breeding season. It has also not specified the mesh size of fishing nets.'

Indiscriminate use of agricultural pesticides and fertilisers in the catchment areas has also caused habitat degradation for the aquatic mammals.