Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary is the abode of Susu, a rare species of Dolphins

There are total 2,12,000 marine species known to us. However, it is estimated that the total figure of these species on earth comes between 1.4 – 1.6 million (According to Bouchet P, 2006). Each of them is unique and alluring in their own way. Some are small whereas others are huge, some appears like a toy whereas others are deadly. Varieties are unfathomable and beautiful Dolphins are among them. Dolphins are the rare kind of aquatic mammals, who has the ability to communicate to human beings. They are always considered as friendly, smart and a playful mammal. These are the reasons which make people go crazy about dolphins.

Dolphins are well distributed aquatic animal around the globe. You can find their varieties in different parts of the world except for the regions having cold water, as they are resistant to cold water. You will be amused to know that a variety of dolphin, Platanista Gangetic (botanical name), commonly known as  Gangetic Dolphin or Susu is found majorly in the river of Ganga near Bhagalpur, Bihar.

There is a 50 km stretch, starts at Sultanganj and stress across the Khoelgaon in Bhagalpur district where Gangetic Dolphins are found in abundance. It is known as Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary. 

A survey was conducted in this area, which concludes that this area has maximum Gangetic dolphins. The area is designated as a protected area for the endangered Gangetic Dolphins, in the year 1991. And the species of dolphins found in the sanctuary were classified as endangered in the year 2006 by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources). It also has other kinds of aquatic animals like; the Indian smooth-coated Otter (Lutrogale perspicillata), Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), a variety of freshwater turtles, and 135 species of waterfowl.

Gangetic dolphins are endangered species that has survived through hundred million years. They have been declared as the National Aquatic Animal of India. They are also found in few other rivers in South Asia. Earlier they were in greater number but, because of the change in weather and numerous human activities, their number has declined to just 83. Like the movement of big cargo vessels in the area is a big reason for the cause. Building of dams, pollution of fertilizers and pesticides, and industrial and domestic effluents, are some of the other reasons behind the issue. They can grow from 5-8 ft and can weigh up to 90 kg. They have a long mouth, and a stocky but streamline body.

To protect these dolphins as well as the sanctuary various conservation works were launched in the area. Some of the noted works are;

  • The Vikramshila Biodiversity Research and Education Centre (VBREC), led by Dr Sunil Chaudhary, along with the Whales and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS), the Environmental Biology Laboratory of Patna University, and T.M. Bhagalpur University, has initiated a project to improve the conservation value of Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary.
  • World Wide Fund India also had started The Dolphin Conservation Programme to conserve the habitat of the Ganges River Dolphin and secure a future for the endangered species.

Recently, Dr. Ravindra Kumar Sinha, also known as the “Dolphin Man of India”, has been conferred with Padma Shri, 2016 by the President of India. His scientific research and relentless conservation campaign for the past 35 years have been crucial to the efforts of saving the Ganga River dolphin from extinction. In response to it, the Government of India designated this Dolphin as the National Aquatic Animal of India in 2009. Born in Keotar village, Jahanabad district, Bihar, he is currently the Vice-Chancellor of Nalanda Open University.

Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary is a great place to enjoy your weekend and experience the essence of dolphins. Though only if you lucky enough, you are going to witness one. Still, you can enjoy the mesmerizing beauty of Ganga ghat, the diverse other aquatic animals, boat rides and holy bath in Ganga. For the best experience plan your visit in the month of June or October. 

Disturbing the wildlife and harming the nature is somewhat has become a daily routine of our society. But we need to give our priorities to these concerns otherwise we will lose a significant chapter of human survival.

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