Sanctuary Brings Hope For Freshwater Dolphins In Asia
The Government of Bangladesh has recently declared three new wildlife sanctuaries for endangered freshwater dolphins in the world’s largest mangrove ecosystem – the Sundarbans.
The sanctuaries, which were officially declared on January 29, will protect the last two remaining species of freshwater dolphins in Asia; the Ganges River dolphin and the Irrawaddy dolphin. Although there is no global population estimate for either species, both have been in decline. But, they occur in the Sundarbans in sufficient numbers, and so the sanctuary may serve to prevent their extinction. The dolphins are under threat from entanglements in fishing nets used by local fishermen and also reduced prey to feed on. News of the declared sanctuaries is particularly welcome following the recent extinction of the Yangtze River dolphin whose last confirmed sighting was in 2002. Similar threats killed off this species after having survived in the Yangtze River of China for more than 10 million years.
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