GUWAHATI, Jan 5 � With threats to the sihu or Gangetic dolphin (Platanista gangetica) being still real in Assam, there is a need to take strong protective steps to ensure their survival. Better awareness among people along with effective anti-poaching measures could help determine the fate of the species that has already been affected by human intervention.
This was reiterated by several experts who attended a book launch function at Guwahati Press Club yesterday. Releasing a book Sihur Sandhanot Luitedi, former Vice-Chancellor of Dibrugarh University, Dr Kulendu Pathak said that its author Dr Abdul Wakid deserves to be commended for his efforts in recording his experiences while estimating Ganges river dolphin populations.
However, Dr Pathak was of the view that more needs to be done so that better protection could conserve the sihu population and its habitat. He regretted that near his native place in Nagarbera there was a sizeable population of the species. But due to the construction of an embankment the river and its river dolphin population have ceased to exist.
Dr Bibhab Talukdar, secretary general of Aaranyak, the biodiversity conservation group that has published the book, in his welcome address described Dr Wakid�s work on river dolphins as crucial. �It would certainly help further research on the species that has faced serious threats for a long time,� he said.
During the programme, Dr Wakid made a presentation on how he and his team carried out estimation of river dolphins on the Brahmaputra from its easternmost part in Assam up to the point the river enters Bangladesh. The effort involved extreme dedication from the team which had to endure great odds to complete their assignment on the river that is unpredictable in many stretches.
It may be mentioned that according to recent estimations, the population of Ganges river dolphins in the Brahmaputra could be around 300.