India will celebrate Oct 5 as Dolphin Day to create awareness to save the endangered species...

The Gangetic River dolphin is one of only four freshwater dolphin species in the world. The other three are found in the Yangtze river in China, the Indus river in Pakistan and the Amazon river in South America. The Gangetic river species is found in India, Bangladesh and Nepal. It is blind and finds its way and prey in the river waters through echoes.

There are only about 2,000 Gangetic River dolphins left in India. This is down from tens of thousands just a few decades ago. These dolphins are being killed at an alarming rate by poachers for their flesh as well as oil, which is used as an ointment and aphrodisiac. Their carcasses are regularly found on the river's banks. Because of this these dolphins now fall under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act and have been declared an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Recently after initiating steps to help conserve the Gangetic River dolphin, Bihar, India made the decision to celebrate Oct. 5th as Dolphin Day. This was set up to create awareness to save the endangered species which has been declared India's national aquatic animal. The Dolphin Day will be a part of the Wildlife Week which is observed from Oct. 2nd to the 8th.

Some of the activities for that day will include films on the dolphin and youth and students will be used to spread the message of protecting these endangered mammals. Also for this special day, the government will utilize the help of R.K. Sinha, an expert on Gangetic river dolphins along with other researchers and organizations working for the conservation of the dolphins for the celebrations. One of these organizations is the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary. It is the only Gangetic dolphin sanctuary in India and is spread over 50 km along the Ganges River. It is located in Bihar's Bhagalpur district.

All of this came about after the Bihar government decided to set up a task force last year for the conservation of the endangered species. Then earlier this year, state government set up Gangetic dolphin research center which is the first of this type in the country. With all these efforts in place, hopefully the future will be much brighter for the Gangetic River dolphin.

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