India’s sacred river is home to one of the most endangered dolphins on the planet. There are only about 1,800 Ganges river dolphins left and numbers are still falling.
Unsurprisingly, humans are responsible. A proliferation of damming projects along the Ganges along with constant pesticide and fertiliser run-off makes the river a harsh and difficult place to live. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, 9,000 tons of toxic pesticides and 6 million tons of fertiliser are used near the Ganges every year.
Some river dolphins are also killed deliberately, for their meat and oil, and others die as accidental bycatch in fishing nets.
If the river dolphin is to be saved, immediate action to reduce pollution, address unsustainable fishing methods and stop further destructive development is essential.
In China, another river dolphin, the baiji, has already gone, for much the same reasons. Ask the Indian government not to let the Ganges river dolphin follow the baiji into extinction.
We the undersigned ask that you take immediate action to protect the few remaining Ganges river dolphins (Platanista gangetica gangetica) before the animal disappears for good. River dolphins are very vulnerable, as China has already discovered, with the Yangtze river dolphin or baiji almost certainly being extinct.
The Ganges river dolphin is struggling to cope with destructive dams, overfishing, pollution and hunting, much the same things that exterminated the baiji. Most of these also have an impact on the people who depend on the Ganges. Protecting this iconic species would also protect one of India’s most vital ecosystems and the people and animals that depend on it.
We ask that you formulate an action plan as a matter of urgency. With only about 1,800 individuals left, this dolphin is liable to follow the baiji into extinction unless action is taken immediately. India’s government has a responsibility to protect India’s people, environment, wildlife and natural resources. We hope that you will learn from the irreversible mistakes of other countries and take the lead in conservation initiatives.
Thank you for your attention.