Tuesday December 12, 2017
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Bengal to get India’s first dolphin reserve


Kolkata: India’s first community reserve to protect the endangered Gangetic river dolphins will come up in West Bengal, an official said here on Friday.

It would be set up in the Hooghly river and the methodology to develop the community reserve is being chalked out by a separate committee.

“The committee will take a decision based on inputs from all stakeholders since it’s a community reserve. We have not yet decided a time-frame,” Chief Wildlife Warden West Bengal and Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) Azam Zaidi told IANS.

According to a World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) factsheet, the Ganges River dolphin, or susu, inhabits the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh.

Once found in thousands, there are fewer than 2,000 Gangetic dolphins left in the country in the entire distribution range along the Ganga and Brahamaputra river system.

It was declared as the National Aquatic Animal in 2010.


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Gangetic Dolphins sighted in highly polluted pockets of Hooghly are in Danger

Dolphins. VOA

Kolkata March 23, 2017: Experts from Worldwide Fund for Nature-India, who mapped the abundance of and threats to Gangetic dolphins in the Hooghly, say one of the most “striking features” of the study was that the endangered mammals were sighted in highly polluted pockets of the river.

The study was conducted by observing and counting dolphins from the riverbank at specific locations along the 534-km stretch of the Hooghly in West Bengal.

The current global population of the species is between 1,200 and 1,800 individuals.

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“We sighted around 75 to 80 dolphins, between Farakka and Ganga Sagar, during the period. We know that in locations where pollution levels and man-made disturbances are high, dolphins are usually not found. However, there are some highly-polluted points such as Kolaghat and Gadiara where we sighted the mammals.

“If we take measures now, if we can reduce the level of pollution and generate awareness, then we can protect them,” Saswati Sen, State Director, WWF-India, West Bengal, told IANS on Wednesday.

Sen spotted around seven to eight dolphins with calves in Kolaghat, a town located on the banks of the Rupnarayan river in the East Midnapore district.

The organisation has initiated a dialogue with municipal corporations and panchayats to help generate awareness in these locations.

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The survey was conducted from 2012-2014 to explore the behaviour, abundance, habitat-use and potential threats of the dolphin in the lower, middle and upper stretches of the river Ganga and its tributaries in southern Bengal.

The findings were published in the Journal of Threatened Taxa in August 2016. The paper was co-authored by marine biologist Mahua Roy Chowdhury and Sangita Mitra (presently associated with National Biodiversity Authority).

Observations were made during the day-light hours at 12 stations and their adjacent river stretches (from a boat) and along river banks during the study period.

Global positioning system (GPS) was used during navigation for recording the locations of sightings around every station and adjacent water channels.

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As for threats, the study notes: “It was noticed during this study that potential threats in the dolphin habitat have an adverse impact either directly on their prey species or confine the habitat into isolated pockets.”

Some of the key concerns raised by the study are: Entanglement of the mammals in fishing gear such as nylon gill nets, availability of fish, the presence of dams and barrages in the river that prevent their migration and lead to the segregation of populations.

“Farakka Barrage on the Ganga is one major impediment in the movement of dolphins since its commissioning in 1975. Currently, there are five connecting bridges over the river Rupnarayan at Kolaghat and a series of sluice gates over river Damodar near Garchumukh obstructing the movement of the dolphins,” the study highlights.

Now the researchers plan to go for observations in stretches between two points along the river. “We plan to do it after the monsoon when the water recedes,” Sen added.

The Ganges River dolphin inhabits the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh. (IANS)

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Why Holy Cow not on Indian currency? 63 Countries have Picture of this animal on their Currency Notes

Cows have found their way onto the notes of the currencies’ of many countries like Rwanda, Botswana, Burundi, Mexico, Swaziland, Somalia, Gambia and many more

Cows in India, Pixabay

Dec 9, 2016: For centuries, cows have been considered sacred by Hindus but today the animal has become an integral part of India’s culture. According to ancient Hindu scriptures, the cow is the mother of the 33 crores of deities. Even though it is such an important part of the Indian culture, many of us wonder why it is somehow missing from the currency notes of India?

Cows have found their way onto the notes of the currencies’ of many countries like Rwanda, Botswana, Burundi, Mexico, Swaziland, Somalia, Gambia to name a few.

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Recently, India has included its mission to mars called ‘Mangalyaan’ on the new Rs 2000 note released after the demonetization.

Milk is not the only product cows provide us with. A cow’s urine is a potent carcinogen, therefore it has health benefits too! But before we start exploiting the resources we have at hand like we always do. We need to protect and care for the animal as much as we respect it in our culture.

Nandi (a bull) is worshipped as the mount for Lord Shiva. Pixabay.
Nandi (a bull) is worshipped as the mount for Lord Shiva. Pixabay

Most people think that tethering a cow inside a cowshed is enough. But the cowsheds provide only a roof above their heads to avoid direct sunlight, but they still have to endure the weather conditions which are sometimes extreme. The ropes tying them are very short and the animals cannot even move their heads freely. The cows are separated from their calves for entire days and the isolation, that affect them mentally.

The cows are bred and raised in filthy conditions. The cows, when bathed are not cleaned properly and the water mixes with the dirt on the shed floor forming mud and becomes slurry which results in skin diseases. The cows suffer fatigue due to standing at one place for hours because of crowded shelters. Such cows along with the ones who are undernourished are then sent to slaughterhouses.

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When the milk production reduces, the owners resort to injecting them with oxytocin to squeeze out milk from the cows by contractions of the uterus.

If the cows are not being ill-treated in cowsheds they are being left to fend for themselves on streets and roads where they sometimes meet accidents and die or are severely injured. These cows in the process of feeding themselves from garbage dumps and other sources also ingest non-biodegradable waste like plastics and suffer worse fates.

Our country has the lowest dairy yield and of the worst nutrition value in the world. Therefore, we need better veterinary care for the cows by owners and more people to take care of them instead of fighting over their slaughter. These animals which represent grace and calm need to be respected by being protected.

– by Shivam Thaker of NewsGram. Twitter: @Shivam_Thaker

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Disaster continues: BP oil spill killing dolphins at an alarming rate



By NewsGram Staff Writer

After the 2010 BP oil spill, Dolphins swimming in the oil-contaminated waters of the Gulf of Mexico have suffered from lung lesions and are dying at high rates because of petroleum pollution, as per a recent study.

More than 1,300 bottlenose dolphins have stranded themselves in the northern Gulf of Mexico since early 2010. The recent research links this unusual mortality event to the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The rise in the death toll of dolphin began shortly before the spill in April 2010, when 4.9 million barrels of oil was spilled into the ocean, and the scientists have struggled to understand whether the two events are related. According to a report of PLOS ONE, all the underwater animals found dead had lung and adrenal-gland lesions that are consistent with exposure to petroleum compounds.

Stephanie Venn-Watson, a veterinary epidemiologist at the National Marine Mammal Foundation said, “Dolphins take big, deep breaths right at the surface of the water, where oil sheens are most concentrated, and where there is a good chance of inhaling oil itself.”

According to the research which compared autopsies of 46 dolphins that were found dead in the spill area had lesions in the lungs and adrenal glands, which regulate hormones and stress response. That’s when researchers came to know that something is wrong with the dolphins.

Kathleen Colegrove, pathologist at the University of Illinois said, “We found that dolphins that died after the oil spill had distinct adrenal gland and lung lesions that were not present in the stranded dolphins from other areas.”

One out of three stranded dolphins in the spill area had a thinned adrenal gland cortex, a rate that was significantly higher than the reference population of stranded dolphins in Sarasota Bay, Florida, in which one in 10 had such a condition.

Colegrove told reporters during a conference call to discuss the findings, “The thinning of the adrenal gland cortex was a very unusual abnormality for us that has not been previously reported in dolphins in the literature. This is something which is latest in a series of research papers on dolphin health in the region after the spill.”

Other differences were also apparent. More than one in five dolphins from the mass-death group had bacterial pneumonia, a serious lung disease that was severe enough to cause or contribute to the animals’ deaths.

Venn-Watson described that inhaling oil can cause adrenal dysfunction, lung disease and bacterial pneumonia, which is one of the most common outcomes of chemical inhalation injury in other animals. Whereas other diseases like brucellosis and morbillivirus are also responsible for increase in the number of deaths.

A 2013 study on cetaceans in Louisiana’s Barataria Bay, found that dolphins were losing their teeth, had lung lesions and high pervasiveness of disease after the worst oil spill in US history.

Venn-Watson added, “Combination of live and dead dolphin analyses, including the latest study, have provided a strong body of evidence. We feel that this study is a critical link in the chain.”

According to figures from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), minimum 1.300 dolphins have washed up in the area of the Gulf of Mexico since the spill. An additional 114 were stranded from February, two months prior to the spill, until April 20.

Geoff Morell, BP senior vice president for US communications and external affairs said, “This new paper fails to show that the illnesses observed in some dolphins were caused by exposure to Macondo oil.” After BP took the issue to the scientific findings.