Patna: Bihar observed Dolphin Day on Friday to raise awareness about conservation of the Ganga river dolphin declared as India's national aquatic animal.

"Dolphin Day is a step towards conserving the Ganga river dolphin and would be observed every year on October 5," Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi said at a workshop in Patna.

"It is a part of the Wildlife Week being observed in Bihar (October 2-8)," he added. On the conservation efforts initiated by the government, the Bihar deputy chief minister said a dolphin watch centre would come up along the Ganga river in Patna, where dolphins are still sighted.

The centre would serve as a tourist attraction besides raising awareness about Ganga river dolphins. R K Sinha, chairperson of the working group for dolphin conservation set up by the central government welcomed the initiative.

"Dolphin Day will help spread the message of their conservation," Sinha said."Several programmes, including screening of films on dolphins, have been organised for youths and students," a forest official said. Ganga dolphins are being killed at an alarming rate by poachers for their flesh as well as oil, which used as an ointment and aphrodisiac. Their carcasses are regularly found on the river's banks.

The mammal is covered under the Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act and has been declared an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).India's only sanctuary for the endangered species, the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary, is in Bihar's Bhagalpur district, around 235 km from Patna.

Earlier this year, a Ganga dolphin research centre, the first such centre in the country, was set up in the Bihar capital. The Gangetic dolphin species found in India, Bangladesh and Nepal is blind and finds its way and prey in the river waters through echoes.


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