A survey of the Gangetic dolphin, covering 3,350 km stretch of major rivers including Ganga and Yamuna, will be conducted soon by the UP government, with an aim to ascertain vital information about the endangered animal's population and devise a plan for its conservation.
Uttar Pradesh Forest Department and WWF-India along with financial support from the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), will roll out 'My Ganga, My Dolphin' campaign 2015 and conduct the census from October 5-8 in a "bigger" and much more "decentralised" manner.
This is the second such census of the national aquatic animal, as a dolphin census was conducted in 2012 during the Wildlife Week (October 1-7).
During the last census, about 2,500 km of riverine stretch was surveyed in the state covering rivers Ganga, Yamuna, Chambal, Geruwa, Ghagra, Ken, Betwa, Surya and Rapti, and a total of 671 dolphins were counted.
During that survey, while 555 km stretch of the Ghagra recorded the maximum of 231 dolphins, no dolphin were sighted in Ken and Betwa rivers.
"This year, the census will be from October 5-8, 2015 and will cover 3350 km stretch of the Ganga, Yamuna, Chambal, Ken, Betwa, Son, Sharda, Geruwa,Gahagra Gandak and Rapti by 21 teams. Uttar Pradesh is slated to become the first state to have conducted this census twice in a participatory manner using a unified methodology," Principal Secretary, Forest, Sanjeev Sharan told reporters.
The teams involved in the census will focus on threats to their life and try to educate people on how can they contribute to save the national aquatic animal listed as endangered Indian Wildlife Protection act, he said.
Uttar Pradesh is the first state to conduct the Dolphin Census this year.
The Wildlife body said that the census will contribute in strengthening the data and information on dolphin population from across the distribution range of the species in the Uttar Pradesh state.
"Threats to species and its habitat will be identified and management strategy will be devised for 'critical habitats' as conservation hotspots. The exercise will also help in building capacity for adopting effective data collection skills and monitoring by the participating teams," WWf said in a statement.
Elaborating about the census, the statement said that it will be conducted following a simple technique (Direct Count Method) based on IUCN survey protocol for studying freshwater cetaceans.
In addition to estimating the population of Gangetic dolphins in Uttar Pradesh, a habitat evaluation will be conducted to record specific threats faced by the species.
A team of over 200 people including officials from 21 forest divisions and 23 NGOs will actively participate in this survey. Each of the 21 teams will be coordinated by the Divisional Forest Officials (DFOs).