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INDIA'S FIRST NATIONAL DOLPHIN RESEARCH CENTRE



  Apr 13, 2024

INDIA'S FIRST NATIONAL DOLPHIN RESEARCH CENTRE



India has established its inaugural National Dolphin Research Centre (NDRC) in Patna, adjacent to the Ganga river. This significant milestone, achieved on March 4, 2024, underscores India's commitment to the conservation of the endangered Gangetic river dolphin. After enduring several delays and a decade in planning, the centre is set to pioneer comprehensive research aimed at the preservation of these unique freshwater mammals.

Facilities and Location: The NDRC, situated on a plot of 4,400 square meters near Patna University, benefits from its proximity to the Ganga river, enabling direct observation and study of the dolphins in their natural environment.


● Objectives:
The centre's main goals include studying the dolphins' behavior, survival techniques, dietary habits, causes of mortality, and more. It's designed to serve as a beacon of excellence in dolphin research. Additionally, the centre plans to engage local fishermen through training programs on dolphin conservation methods during fishing activities.


● Historical Context and Approval:
The project received initial approval in 2013 and, despite facing delays, construction began following the clearance from the state's urban development department. This was crucial as regulations restrict construction within 200 meters of the river.


● Conservation Significance: 
The Gangetic river dolphin, India’s national aquatic animal and a Schedule I animal under the Wild Life (Protection) Act of 1972, is classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. With an estimated population of around 3,000 in India, half of which reside in Bihar, the establishment of the NDRC is a critical step towards safeguarding these creatures and their habitat. The dolphins are blind and rely on echolocation to navigate and hunt in the river's waters, preferring areas with enough fish and minimal current to conserve energy.


By focusing on the Gangetic river dolphin, one of the four freshwater dolphin species worldwide, the NDRC not only aims to bolster conservation efforts but also to enhance understanding of these mammals and the challenges they face.

The Amazing Gangetic River Dolphin

Q: What makes the Gangetic river dolphin so special?

A: Here's what sets them apart:

One of few freshwater dolphins: These dolphins are one of only four species in the world that live exclusively in freshwater rivers.

National aquatic animal of India: They hold a place of importance in India's culture and biodiversity.

Blind hunters: Unlike most dolphins, Gangetic river dolphins are almost completely blind, relying on echolocation to navigate and find prey in murky rivers.

Q: Where can Gangetic river dolphins be found?

A: Their natural habitat spans three countries:

India (primarily within the Ganges River system)
● Bangladesh

● Nepal

Q: Why are Gangetic river dolphins endangered?

A: They face numerous threats, most caused by human activities:


● Dams and irrigation systems fragment their habitat.
● Pollution from industrial and agricultural runoff degrades the water quality.
● Fishing nets and boat propellers can cause accidental injuries or death.

Q: What is unique about Gangetic river dolphin behavior?

A: While much is yet to be discovered, here are some interesting facts:


● They favor areas with deep water and less current, ideal for energy conservation.
● They are skilled at diving into deeper waters for safety.
● Despite blindness, they're adept at finding fish to eat in the river.

Q: How can we help protect Gangetic river dolphins?

A: Conservation efforts must include:


● Reducing pollution and maintaining clean rivers.
● Developing dolphin-safe fishing practices.
● Supporting habitat restoration and connectivity along rivers.
● Raising awareness and encouraging people to care about these unique creatures.


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