Dolphin Population Declining in Nepali Rivers

Dolphin Population Declining in Nepali Rivers

The population of dolphins in Nepal’s rivers is steadily decreasing, particularly affecting the rare species inhabiting the Koshi, Karnali, and Narayani rivers. Dr. Sambhu Paudel, an expert on dolphins, notes a significant decline in their numbers due to human-induced disruptions in their natural habitat, adversely impacting aquatic biodiversity.

Previously, dolphins were commonly sighted in the Saptakoshi River near the Barahakshetra Temple and the Koshi Barrage’s northern area. However, since the 2008 floods, their sightings have decreased, with only 19 dolphins recorded in the Saptakoshi River last year, according to Birendra Gautam from the National Trust for Nature Conservation.

Factors such as flood-induced barriers at the Koshi Barrage gates prevent dolphins from freely moving upstream, exacerbating their decline. Furthermore, dams constructed on the Nepal-India border hinder their migration back to Nepal, contributing to the dwindling dolphin population.

These freshwater dolphins face additional challenges compared to their oceanic counterparts, particularly concerning water pollution, as highlighted by Rajesh Sada from the World Wildlife Fund Nepal. Their conservation is imperative due to their social nature and ecological significance, emphasized by experts.

Referenced in ancient texts like the Mahabharata, dolphins hold cultural importance, further underscoring the urgency for their conservation. It’s crucial for relevant authorities to take proactive measures to safeguard these majestic creatures, stresses Dr. Paudel.

Despite efforts, the study of Nepali river dolphins’ language, behavior, and habits faces limitations due to human activities like fishing, which pose significant threats to their survival, as noted by experts.

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