We should christen our fellow South Asians Dolphins (like most IndoPak issues there is some unclarity on the terms, Indus River Dolphin, Ganges River Dolphin or South Asian River Dolphin) as Brownz and complain to the Beeb about the “big-nosed reference”
Clockwise from top left: Sunda pangolin, Chinese giant salamander, Mallorcan midwife toad, long-beaked echidna and Ganges river dolphin
- Found in: Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan
- Status: Endangered
- Population: Lowest estimate is 1,200-1,800 animals worldwide and decreasing
Another big-nosed mammal that doesn’t feature in many conservation campaigns is the Ganges river dolphin.
It’s a stocky freshwater dolphin with a long beak that displays its large, very visible teeth. Like most river dolphins, this species has little need for vision in the muddy waters it inhabits, so it has tiny, non-functional eyes.
Nadia Richman from the Institute of Zoology has studied the animals for three years. She says that the Ganges river dolphin is the “last remaining, widespread top predator in freshwater systems in Bangladesh, India and Nepal”.
“[It's] also one of the two remaining true freshwater dolphin species, following the extinction of the Baiji in 2007. [The International Union for the Conservation of Nature formally classifies the Baiji as Critically Endangered, although many researchers say the population has been wiped out.]
“It is the most evolutionarily distinct toothed whale so to lose this species would mean losing a considerable amount of evolutionary history.” Richman admits that their appearance “can be somewhat off-putting”. “But once you get to know their character you realise there is a very ‘cute’ element to them.
“The local people in Bangladesh call them uchu mach which means jumping fish in Bangla [Bengali], and on the rare occasion you can see their heads, they always have a smile.”
ZackNote: Good job on the UP govt in twinning conservation and religion:
The Uttar Pradesh government in India is bringing up ancient Hindu texts in hopes of raising the community support to save the dolphins from disappearing. One of the lines being versed from Valimiki’s Ramayan, highlighted the force by which the Ganges emerged from Lord Shivji’s locks and along with this force came many species such as animals, fish and the Shishumaar—the dolphin.