River dolphin conservation project propsal from Assam wins global competition

From Our Correspondent

Guwahati: Efforts for conservation of the highly endangered river dolphin in the Brahmaputra River

System in Assam is set to get a major boost with a project for restoration of important habitat for

the endangered Gangetic River Dolphin (known as ‘shihu’ in Assam’s Bharmaputra valley areas),

proposed by Aaranyak, a bio-diversity conservation organization and an IUCN member based in Guwahati,

has won a global online public voting competition.

Aaranyak’s Dolphin conservation project has secured position with 4736 votes, while UK’s Shark

conservation project came second with 3947 votes and Peru’s Manta Ray project became third with 3681

votes in the international online competition.

The Aaranyak informed that the competition was organised by the European Outdoor Conservation

Association, a Switzerland based non-profit association. Shortlisted from 86 projects initially, this

dolphin conservation project was one of the seven from six countries in the Nature category. The online

voting in all categories was opened from September 22 to October 6 where total 36,100 votes were

counted with highest 19,735 votes in Nature category, 7686 votes in Outdoor category and 8689 votes in

Alpine category. Aaranyak’s Dolphin project not only received the highest votes in Nature category, but

was also able to secure the highest votes among all the three category projects.

Through this project, Aaranyak plans to do habitat restoration activities in 30 most important dolphin

habitat covering 100 km river stretch of the Brahmaputra River in association with local communities.

These restoration activities include river cleaning , prevention of domestic garbage dumping to the

river, prevention of oil and grease dumping to the river by the motor boats and ferries, prevention of

riparian vegetation destruction and regular cleanliness monitoring by local communities.

All these activities will not only help save about 600 endangered Gangetic dolphins inhabiting the

Brahmaputra river system, but also the other associated aquatic animals living in those river stretches

as well as the livelihood of river bank people, which altogether will lead to the Mission Clean

Brahmaputra. This project will be led by Dr. Abdul Wakid, Head of Aaranyak’s Gangetic Dolphin Research

and Conservation Initiative.

Thousands of fans of Aaranyak and Dolphins across the globe voted for this project. More significantly, two popular singers from Assam, Angaraag Mahanta and Joy Barua appealed the public to vote for the cause. Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (UK), Awley (France), Ocean Park Conservation Foundation

(Hongkong), Peoples Trust for Endangered Species (UK), David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (UK),

Wildlife1 (USA) etc. supported the cause. Thousands of people across Assam voted for the project with active association from all the members of Aaranyak.

Currently, estimated 600 Gangetic dolphins are surviving in Brahmaputra river system within Assam.

Aaranyak through its Gangetic Dolphin Research and Conservation Initiative, led by Dr. Abdul Wakid, has

been conducting conservation activities for the last 10 years.

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