Saturday, June 09, 2007

Fishermen are now trained to save Gangetic dolphins!

In a bid to protect the highly-endangered Gangetic dolphins in river Brahmaputra and its tributaries, a city-based NGO has initiated a training programme for fishermen on alternative bait to dolphin oil.

The Gangetic dolphin has of late fallen prey to local fishermen who are targetting it for its oil used as fish bait.

Under the training programme, initiated by the Centre for North-East Studies and Police Research (CNES), a team of four fishermen from Dhubri travelled to Patna Science College recently for an orientation course on alternative oil prepared from fish viscera, which they successfully tested on their return.

The CNES is currently working in three districts of Assam - Kamrup, Tinsukia and Dhubri - to develop a community based campaign that includes local groups in the conservation process, provide an alternative to the poaching of the river Dolphins and encourage green tourism, Bhaskar Jyoti Saud of the CNES, Dolphin Programme, said.

The alternative oil, he said, has been developed by eminent scientist and conservationist Prof. P K Sinha and his team at the Patna institute to save the dolphins who are hunted for their blubber, which is used as fish bait in Assam and Bihar.

Saud said the extract of viscera oil of common fish is being extensively used as an alternative to dolphin oil by the fishermen of Bihar in the Ganges.

For the fishermen of Assam who previously used dolphin oil to catch fish, the alternative oil is equally effective, and there is no need to hunt the species.

Saud said one of Prof Sinha's studies on the threat to Gangetic dolphins has highlighted the fact that the species is one of the most graceful and friendly creatures, but is sadly being killed for oil.
As per rules, killing a dolphin or being in possession of any part of it is punishable, Saud said, and hoped that the training imparted to fishermen would motivate them to protect the Gangetic dolphins and preserve the ecological balance.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"