The time to protect the dolphin’s habitat in the River Beas has come. There’s a huge need for a healthy ecosystem that will enable the beautiful aquatic mammals to thrive in their natural habitat for years to come. Also Read - Delhi-Manali Road Trip: 10 Things I Learned on The Journey
Dolphins are an indicator species of healthy river systems. India is one of the few countries in the world that has two fresh water dolphin species – the Gangetic River Dolphin and the Indus River Dolphin, sub-species of South Asian River Dolphin. Indus River Dolphins are found in the Indus River system and the River Beas is their only habitat in the country. The river dolphin is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Also Read - Mandi tragedy: Himachal High Court summons Larji Hydropower project authorities
Almost as an answer to a prayer, DCB Bank and WWF-India have partnered to conserve the endangered Indus River Dolphin in the Beas Conservation Reserve. Working closely with the Department of Forests and Wildlife Preservation, Government of Punjab, these organisations will implement initiatives around education, awareness and community led conservation to protect the species and its habitat and ensure conservation measures for its long term survival. Also Read - Mandi tragedy: 50 additional divers called in, over 500 people involved in rescue work
The partnership also aims to strengthen multi-stakeholder leadership and community-led dolphin conservation. Local institutions will spearhead the conservation efforts for the species and work with farmers living in villages on the banks of the river to reduce input use (water, chemical fertilisers and pesticides) in their farms.
WWF-India has been working towards the conservation of the Harike Wetland since 2007 in partnership with the Department of Forests and Wildlife Preservation, Government of Punjab. In 2007, a survey was conducted in certain stretches of River Beas which established the presence of the Indus River Dolphin in the Beas. The first survey of Indus River Dolphin in the Beas Conservation Reserve (185kms was jointly conducted in May 2018.
However, from now on, monthly dolphin surveys will be carried out to establish occurrence and population status along with habitat conservation measures. WWF-India will also work closely with government authorities to devise an Indus River Dolphin Conservation Strategy for long-term conservation of the species.