Progressive Bihar - Finally the sleeping giant is waking up

Progressive Bihar - Finally the sleeping giant is waking up
Progressive Bihar - Come support it's growth path.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Protect the Dolphins and increase eco-tourism - Prof. R. K. Sinha

After my last article on Dolphins in Bihar, I could not stop myself from reading Prof. R. K. Sinha's homepage in depth. As I read through his homepage, my appreciation for the efforts of this man continued to grow and I subsequently ended up writing to him. I got a reply from him and the reply shows how deeply involved and concerned Prof. R. K. Sinha is about the Dolphins.

I want to share the contents of his email and hope that all of us will be able to support his cause by promoting the use of the alternative to the dolhin oil, if and when we get a chance. Like Prof. Sinha has rightly said "By saving a dolphin, fishermen can earn the money daily, equal to what they can earn only one day by killing a dolphin" through promoting eco-tourism.

The contents of Prof. Sinha's email is given below.

"Almost ten years ago I developed an alternative to the Ganges River dolphin oil used by the local fishermen as fish bait. This oil is extracted from fish scraps thrown along the road side near any fish market. From the peritoneal fat attached to the viscera mainly of Rohu, Katla and Mrigal fishes, the oil can easily be extracted by heating the same in any utensil. This can be used as an alternative to the dolphin oil to support oil fishery.

We conducted field trials for 500 hrs in 121 days spread over three years with the help of local fishermen, published the findings in a reputed Journal"Biological Conservation" published from Elsevier from London in 2002. To popularize the oil among fishermen we undertook extension program at Patna, Bhagalpur and Kahalgaon in Bihar and also in Brahmaputra River in Assam from where fishermen were trained by us. They are using this alternative oil and earning good return besides saving the dolphin. Also this oil adds value to the scrap which is otherwise a big nuissance along the road side.

The Ganges dolphin got the status of National Aquatic Animal of India by the Prime Minister on 5th October during the First Meeting of the National Ganga River Basin Authority at the Residence of the Prime Minister. In the meeting, as one of the co-opted Expert Members of the Authority, I explained the ecological and economic importance of the dolphin and requested the Prime Minister to declare the dolphin as a National Aquatic Animal. During an International Conference on Ganga organized by me at Patna University in Nov 2006 I had requested the Chief Minister of Bihar Sri Nitish Kumar to get this species status of National Aquatic Animal and he had written two letters to the Government of India with the same request. On my request and the two letters of the CM, Prime Minister declared the Ganges Dolphin as National Aquatic Animal then and there. Indeed it was very exciting for me and Sri Nitish Kumar who told me "tab apka sab kam to ho gaya" just after the meeting was over.

Promoting eco-tourism to watch dolphin in its natural habitats will provide one of the alternative livelihoods to the fishermen and help save the dolphin also. By saving a dolphin, fishermen can earn the money daily, equal to what they can earn only one day by killing a dolphin. Moreover, the species is our Aquatic heritage as it is endemic to the rivers of the Ganga-Brahmaputra system. It is our prime duty to save the species from extinction."

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