DHUBRI, July 25 - Extensive use of beel nets and rise in water traffic threatens the existence of the Gangetic Dolphin population in the Brahmaputra and its tributaries around Dhubri district.
The district which is known for a high population of the aquatic animal has recently been facing threat from the wide spread use of bill nets, where they get caught accidentally and die. Abdul Wakid, who is the head of the Gangetic Dolphin Research and Conservation Programme (GDRCP) informed that there are around 20-25 such aquatic animals only around Dhubri town, but the number is estimated to be many times higher for the entire district.
He also added that as per the 2012 survey by their organisation, as many as 583 dolphins were spotted all over the Brahmaputra and 635 all over the State.
He admits that this number would have increased significantly all over the district had it not been disrupted because of many reasons of which the use of beel nets is one of the major cause. �The fishermen don�t intend to catch these aquatic animals but they accidentally get trapped in the beel nets that are used, and before the fishermen release these animals, it�s too late, as the dolphins die.� He also added that many dolphins die due to this reason at a very early stage of their life. It may be mentioned that beel nets are fishing nets having extremely fine meshes and are used for catching small fish.
Moreover, as the dolphins communicate through sound, their communication system is interrupted through the use of sonorous boats, �Water traffic in the district has increased by many folds, and the boatmen uses motored boats that emit loud sounds. This sound disturbs the communication system of the river dolphins, making it harder for them to survive,� said Promod Kr Roy, a local environmentalist who informs that sighting a river dolphin is easy from Jogomaya Ghat, Natai Dhubunighat, near the Gurudwara, in early morning. He also added that as July-August is the breeding season, so it is easy to spot them when the water is stable.
Sedimentation is another threat to the river dolphins which are regarded as an endangered species since 1996. �The increasing rates of sedimentation mainly due to erosion causes a rise of the river bed which has a negative impact on the physical and biological characteristics of the river basin, which have extensively affected the dolphins� habitat,� concludes Wakid.