Half of world's Irrawaddy dolphins in Bangladesh: survey

The Sundarbans and its adjacent areas are one of the major sanctuaries of two globally-endangered river dolphins, Ganges River Dolphin and Irrawaddy Dolphin, an ongoing survey has found.

Six hotspots and some semi-hotspots of the two species of dolphins have already been identified there. The hotspots and semi-hotspots cover an area of around 982 square kilometres.

Findings of the survey, which will be concluded in 2019, were shared at the inauguration ceremony of International Freshwater Dolphin Day yesterday, at Liberation War Museum in Dhaka. Forest Department, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) jointly conducted the survey under a project titled “Expanding the Protected Area System to Incorporate Important Aquatic Ecosystem (EPASIIAE)”.

ABM Sarowar Alam, project manager of IUCN and a researcher of the survey, told The Daily Star that the Irrawaddy dolphins are in better conditions in Bangladesh than any other parts of the world.

“Irrawaddy dolphins are critically endangered. Their global population is around 7,000, and at least half of them are currently living in the country, which is remarkable,” said Sarowar.

Monirul H Khan, a professor of Jahangirnagar University who led the survey, said dolphins are threatened here, but they could survive as the country has many estuarine and sufficient fish to eat in rivers.

Incidental killing by fishing nets, poison fishing, decrease of freshwater flow and siltation are major threats to dolphins, he said.

The survey also found that seven species of dolphin currently inhabit Bangladesh. Apart from the aforementioned two, the other species are found in Bay of Bengal.

Environment Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud and Deputy Minister Abdullah Al Islam Jacob also spoke at the event.


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