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.
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Ganges River Dolphin of 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.
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Rajesh Nath - E mail : email@example.com
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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