paper conservation work is going on. But in reality the sanctuary has no formal conservation plan. Unless locals are involved in conservation and awareness is created, dolphins will continue to die."
Untreated sewage, rotting carcasses and industrial effluents that find their way into the Ganges during its 2,500-km-long journey across several states from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal have also affected the dolphins, he said.
The Ganges has already shifted its course near Patna. It now flows over two kilometres away from the city, thanks to silting and pollution.
Researchers estimate the dolphin population across India to be a little over 1,500. Half of these are found in the Ganges in Bihar. The numbers have dropped drastically over the past decades. In the 1980s, the Gangetic delta zone alone had around 3,500 dolphins.
In 1996, freshwater dolphins - locally known as 'sons of the river' - were categorised as an endangered species by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), a forum of conservationists, NGOs and government agencies.
The dolphins of the Ganges are among the four freshwater dolphin species in the world, the other three are found in the river Yangtze in China, in the Indus in Pakistan and in the Amazon in South America.
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