Ganges River Dolphin of Kulsi River

TheUntamedEarth  is  delighted  to  take  you  on  a  wonderful  Dolphin  Safari  with  Rajesh  Nath,  to  a  small  place  outside  Guwahati, in  Assam. You  will  remember  him  from  an  earlier  inspirational  story, “My  Own  Forest … a  delight  forever !”

The  Ganges  River  Dolphin – Platanista  gangetica, is  the  only  fresh  water  river  Dolphin  found  in  India. The  other  river  Dolphins  around  the  world  are  the  Lipotes  vexillifer  of  Yangtse  river  in  China, Platanista  minor  of  Indus river of Pakistan  and   Inia geoffrensis  of  Amazon  river  of  South America.

The   Kulsi   river,  one  of  the  tributaries  of  river  Bhramaputra, has the presence of approx 30 / 35 odd of  these  fresh  river  Dolphins. It  is  the  National  as  well  as  state  aquatic  animal  of  Assam. In the year  1996 the  IUCN (International Union For Conservation Of  Nature) gave  them  the status  of ‘Endangered Species’.

They  have  poor  eyesight  but  their  uniqueness  is  their  highly  developed  sonar  sense. They  use  echo location  to  capture  food  as  well  as  navigate.

Although  devoid  of  ’touristy’  facilities, Rajesh  Nath  tells  us  that  the  efforts  that  one  takes  to  go  Dolphin  spotting  at  the  Kulsi, are  amply  rewarding.

TheUntamedEarth

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Ganges  River  Dolphin of  Kulsi  River

The  Ganges  River  Dolphin  -  Platanista  gagentica, of  the  Kulsi  River.

The Ganges River Dolphin – Platanista gagentica, of the Kulsi River.

The  name  of  Kulsi  River  does  not  figure  in  tourist  guide  book. Assam  Tourism  is  still  unable  to  decide (?)  whether  Dolphin  spotting  can  be  promoted  as  a  tourist attraction  or not. Blessing  in  disguise ! Kulsi  is  still  flowing  in to  the  mighty Brahmaputra  quietly. No  motorboats, no  irresponsible  tourist  activities  and  Dolphins are  having  perhaps  the  safest  home  not  only  in  Assam  but  may  be  in  entire  South  East Asia. Obviously,  Kulsi  has  the  highest  number  of  Ganges  River  Dolphins, approx. 35. Most  surprisingly  these  Dolphins  are  thriving  in  an  area  which  is  neither a  sanctuary  nor  any  sort  of  protected  area.

There  was  a  time  when  dolphins  could  be  found  anywhere  in  the  Brahmaputra.  But the  number  of  dolphins  are  declining  steadily, mostly  being  killed  for  their  oil. It  is estimated  that  less  than  200 Dolphins  are  surviving  today  in  entire  Assam.

Kulsi, a  river  that  flows  into  Assam  from  Meghalaya  and  merges  itself  in to  the Brahmaputra  about  seven  kms  from  Kukurmara, a  small  town  approximately  40  Km from  Guwahati.

How  Dolphins  are  thriving  here ? …  That  too  without  any  government  support ? … In  a thickly  populated  area ?

Answer  is  very  simple !

Kulsi  river  provides  sufficient  fish, enough  stretch  of  deep water  and  most  importantly  surrounding  population’s  belief – killing  a  dolphin  brings misfortune.

Kulsi  is  a  major  sand  mine. Major  portion  of  Guwahati  city’s  sand  requirement  is supplied  from  this  river. Many  want  to  blame  sand  mining  and  feel  that  it  is  harming  the  Dolphin  population, which  I  feel  baseless. In  fact  sand  mining  has saved  the  river  from  siltation. Moreover  mining  is  done  manually, thus  eliminating any  chance  of  injuries  to  the  Dolphins.

Fishing  is  done  in  traditional  method, the  main  reason  behind  abundance  of  fish  in  the  river. Traditional  fishing  does  not  over  exploit  the  river.

Regular  tragic  death  of  Dolphins  due  to  motor  boat  tourism  in  Sadpada  of  Chilka  is well  known  to  all  of  us. Fortunately  no  motor  boats  in  this  river  yet.

People  surrounding  Kulsi  love  the  Dolphin. They  are  poor  but  take  pride  in  their  Dolphins.  Areas  suitable  for  dolphin  spotting  are  yet  not  developed  and  one  has  to walk  a   few  kilometers. One  has  to  sit  under  trees  as  no  tourist  facility  is  available but  it  is  worth  it. Dolphins  are  playful  animals  and  spotting  them  in  plentiful  is  a memorable  sight.

Rajesh Nath

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The  Kulsi  River

The Kulsi River

Catch  of  the  Day - through  traditional  methods  of  fishing.

Catch of the Day – through traditional methods of fishing.

Fishing  in  the  river  Kulsi ... traditional  fishing ... note  the  Dolphin  in  the  foreground.

Fishing in the river Kulsi … traditional fishing … note the Dolphin in the foreground.

The  Ganges  River  Dolphin  -  Platanista  gangetica, of  the  river  Kulsi.

The Ganges River Dolphin – Platanista gangetica, of the river Kulsi.

 

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Rajesh Nath

Rajesh Nath

Rajesh  Nath  -  E mail : rajdusuraj@yahoo.co.in

I am  a senior executive  in  Airports  Authority  of  India  by  profession, based  in  Guwahati  and  wild  life  enthusiast. Wild  life  photography  is my  favourite  leisure  activity.

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5 Responses to Ganges River Dolphin of Kulsi River

  1. Rajesh nath, thanks for sharing this nice tourist attraction for a tour of Assam.

  2. Pramod Prabhu says:

    Came to know about an unknown tourist place and a unique specie of Dolphin. Nice article.

  3. Vaishali Prabhu says:

    Such a beautiful and insightful post !!

  4. Dinesh Taparia says:

    Very informative article.

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