Earlier this week Bangladesh announced that three areas in the southern Sundarbans mangrove forest will be declared sanctuaries to protect Ganges river dolphins (Platanista gangetica gangetica) and Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris).
Mangrove forests are the only place in the world where these Asian river dolphins are found. And the Sundarbans are the world’s largest mangrove forest and home to some 225 Ganges river dolphins and 451 Irrawaddy dolphins.
Although fishermen normally do not target these species, the animals often get entangled in fishing nets and drown. These priority EDGE mammals are not only threatened by fishing but also by rising salinity levels and pollution.
They are amongst the most threatened large vertebrates in the world. And they live in regions of high human population densities, resource overexploitation and environmental degradation, causing increased pressure on the local biodiversity.
The Bangladesh Cetacean Diversity Project (BCPD) carried out surveys in the western part of the Sundarbans and identified dolphin hot spots. Forest Department officials have recommended three areas as to be converted into sanctuaries: Dhangmari, Chandpai and Dudhmukhi. Once sanctuaries are established fishing will be prohibited in the sites allowing the dolphins to roam freely and breed safely
A diverse aquatic ecosystem, the Sundarbans, support an impressive variety of cetaceans- whales, dolphins and porpoises- and provides breeding ground for many fish species. It is great news that steps are being made to improve the level of protection for these extraordinary species and their habitat.
The Ganges river dolphin is one of our conservation priorities, we are part of a long-term integrated programme which focuses on the conservation of the Ganges river dolphin in the Brahmaputra river system. Support our efforts to save this species >>>Donate today!