Dolphins struggling for survival as fish population shrinks
TIKAPUR, April 2: With the decrease in the number of fish in the Karnali River, endangered dolphins have been pushed to the verge of extinction. This has compelled some activists and dolphin conservationists to raise voice for the conservation of fishes.
Conservationists have been urging the local units to ban fishing at least from mid-April to Mid-July which is the reproduction period for fishes. According to them, dolphins can be saved from dying if the local units of Kailali and Bardia ban fishing for three months.
Tharka Bahadur Shah, chairperson of Tikapkur Tourism Committee, informed Republica that discussions have been held with the officials of all local units regarding a decision to ban fishing. "If we could ban fishing for these three months, we will protect not only the dolphins but also other species of fishes," said Shah.
According to conservationist Kalu Hamal, the number of dolphins has been declining every year. There were dozens of dolphins in Karnali until a few years ago but now there are only 4/5 of them left. "If we fail to protect their habitat or food, they will disappear within the next few years," warned Hamal. Locals have been using poison, electricity and nets for fishing which kill not only the fish but also their larvae.
Conservationists say it's not possible to protect the dolphins in Karnali with the efforts of any one local unit. The locals of all local units of both Kailali and Bardia need to join their hands for dolphin conservation, they say. "It is possible to do so only if all will take this problem seriously," said Shah.
During the rainy season, we can see dolphins even in the Mohana River. However, the locals here initiated campaigns for the conservation of dolphin long ago. They have banned fishing, any kinds of activities which pollute environment since 2002. Though fishing has not stopped completely, it has decreased to a large extent, according to conservationist Bhojraj Dhungana. "If we want to save dolphins, we will have to save fishes," said Dhungana.
Karnali and Mohana rivers have Gangatica species of dolphins. This species of dolphin is hardly available in other parts of the world. In fact, this species has become almost extinct in various countries. It is considered as highly social animal.