Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fresh water dolphins receive help from religious leaders

Religious leaders and locals of this sleepy town are doing their bit to save the endangered fresh water dolphins found in the river Ganga.

Their efforts are bearing fruits as in the 165 km stretch of the Upper Ganga between Bijnor and Narora, the number of the endangered aquatic species is on the increase. In 1993-94, the number of the dolphins (Platanista gangetica) in this stretch was just 20. However, with the intervention of the community and with help from World
Wildlife Fund (WWF) experts, the count has doubled to around 40, including calves. Sandeep Behera, freshwater programme coordinator from WWF calls the efforts an excellent example of community participation in aquatic species conservation. Locals of Karnawas villagers have set up a sewage treatment plant to ensure that dirty water does not pollute the river and in turn wipe-out dolphins, Behera said.

"Atleast 85 families of the village are using this treatment plant. We will soon set up another such plant, again without the help of government," adds 25-year-old Himanshu Sharma, a local and volunteer with WWF. Fishing activities are banned and so is mining. "In fact now farmers have stopped using chemical fertilisers and instead started using eco-friendly manure cow-dung on the agricultural land situated on the banks of the river," Sharma says.

In yet another eco-friendly measure, farmers are being encouraged to set up vermi-composting units. Polythene is collected and then burnt at a safer place lest it choke the river, the activist adds.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"