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Over 4000 Gangetic Dolphins in India :Indian Wildlife Institute

Utkarsh Classes Last Updated 23-05-2024
Over 4000 Gangetic Dolphins in India :Indian Wildlife Institute Environment 6 min read

According to a recent report by the Wildlife Institute of India, there are more than 4000 dolphins in the Gangetic River basin. Out of the 4000 river dolphins found in the Ganga River and its tributaries, more than 2000 are found in Uttar Pradesh alone. In Uttar Pradesh, the dolphins are mainly found in the Chambal River.

According to experts, the marked increase in the number of river dolphins in Gangetic river basins indicates that the river's pollution level is declining and the government’s conservation effort is paying off.

Gangetic River Dolphin 

Ganges river dolphin also known as blind dolphin, Ganges susu or Hihu’s scientific name is Platanista gangetica.

Historically, the Gangetic dolphin was found in the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems.

Presently, the Gangetic dolphin is found in certain stretches of India’s Ganga-Brahmaputra-Barak river system, Nepal’s Karnali, Sapta Koshi, and Narayani river systems, and Bangladesh’s Meghna, Karnaphuli, and Sangu river systems.

Within India, it is mainly found in the mainstream of the Ganga River and its tributaries, Ghaghra, Kosi, Gandak, Chambal, Rupnarayan, and Yamuna.

Characteristic of Gangetic dolphin 

The Gangetic dolphins are blind and can only live in freshwater. They use sonars to hunt their prey, emitting ultrasonic sound waves that bounce off fish and other prey. They are frequently found either alone or in small groups. Dolphins are mammals, not fish. They cannot breathe in water, so they have to surface every 30-120 seconds to breathe. 

Due to the sound it produces when breathing, the animal is popularly referred to as 'Susu'.

Threat to Gangetic Dolphins 

There was a major decline in the population of the Gangetic dolphins due to various factors. Some of the important factors are:

  • Unintentional killing through entanglement in fishing gear.
  • Poaching for dolphins for use of its oil for medicinal purposes.
  • Destruction of its habitat due to development projects like the construction of barrages, high dams and embankments, pollution (industrial waste and pesticides, municipal sewage discharge and noise from vessel traffic).

Government steps to save Gangetic Dolphin

To preserve the river dolphins, the government of India and state governments have taken a number of steps. Some of the important steps taken are as follows:

  • Gangetic river dolphin is listed in Schedule –I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 which  provides the highest degree of legal protection.
  • Gangetic river dolphin was declared the National Aquatic Animal of India on 18 May 2010 by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest.
  • Gangetic river dolphin has been included as one of the 22 critically endangered species for providing financial assistance to States under the Centrally sponsored scheme ‘Development of Wildlife habitats’.
  • Vikramshila Dolphin Sanctuary in Bhagalpur, Bihar, has been set up to protect the species.
  • A comprehensive action plan (2022-2047) has been developed to ensure the well-being of river dolphins and aquatic habitats.
  • The Uttar Pradesh government has declared a Dolphin Sanctuary area in the Chambal Sanctuary.
  • The Prime Minister has announced Project Dolphin in 2019 under the Arth Ganga part of the Namami Ganga Project.
  • The aim is to double the population of Dolphins by 2030.  

Wildlife Institute of India 

The Wildlife Institute of India was established in 1982 as an autonomous institute under the Union Ministry of Forest and Climate Change.

The Institute was set up to train government and non-government personnel, conduct research, and advise on matters of conservation and management of wildlife resources. It mainly conducts research on wildlife and its management across the country.

Headquarters: Dehradun, Uttarakhand 


Answer: Uttar Pradesh has more than 2000 river dolphins.

Answer: 18 May 2010

Answer: Ganga River and its tributaries, Ghagra, Kosi, Gandak, Chambal, Rupnarayan, and Yamuna.

Answer: River dolphins are found in the Ganga River and its tributaries. It is a mammal, and to breathe it has to regularly surface every 30-120 seconds. Due to the sound they emit while breathing, they are also called susu.

Answer: Bhagalpur district of Bihar

Answer: Dehradun, Uttarakhand

Answer: Union Ministry of Forest and Climate Change.

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