The accidental killing of a river dolphin by the bamboo raft near Guwahati has rekindled the debate to save the rare mammal, which has just 267 numbers in Assam.
The fully-grown Dolphin was found perched in the bamboo raft with broken jaw in Guwahati when bamboos were being offloaded. The dolphin was handed over to Assam State Zoo.
The Zoo officials and the raft owners have concluded that Dolphin might have tried to capture smaller fish stuck in the bamboo raft and in the process entrapped its own trunk.
This is for the first time a reported death due to Bamboo raft was reported as generally it gets killed by gill net entanglement and poaching. Each year 10-15 accidental deaths are reported.
According to Abdul Wakid, who surveyed the river Brahmaputra twice the entire stream, the Brahmaputra and its tributaries have just 267 dolphins. Out of Which Brahmaputra has 212, Subansiri has 26 and Kulsi has 29 river dolphins.
Dolphins are killed for meat and oil. ‘Missing’ tribes of Eastern Assam kill dolphins mainly for meat, whereas in Western Assam, they are killed for oil.
Most of the riverine villagers in remote areas believe that dolphin oil has medicinal value and they use it to treat different rheumatic diseases , says Wakid. Dolphin poaching for medicinal oil and for the oil bait fishery is one of the major causes of Dolphin mortality in Assam. Therefore extensive community-based conservation initiatives or awareness programmes can reduce the mortality rate of this species.
Industries discharging pollutants to water of Brahmaputra River pollutes the Dolphin habitats. Again, deforestation as well as industrlistaion in the riparian zones and in highlands of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh has been creating siltation in the riverbed, resulting into the lowering of water depth.
Since Dolphins prefer deeper water, therefore, low water depth through siltation has resulted into habitat loss.