Background and approach


The Species:

Ganges river dolphin (Platanista gangetica gangetica) is one of the five river dolphins found in the world. The species is distributed in Ganges and Brahmaputra river basins of India, Nepal and Bangladesh. It feeds majorly on fishes and is are usually found in counter current systems of the main river channel. They have a highly developed bio sonar system that facilitates them to hunt for fish even in murky waters. Indian ministry of environment and forests declared Ganges river dolphin as National aquatic animal in 2009.

Conservation status:

Ganges river dolphins are protected under Schedule I of Wildlife Protection Act (1972). Their population is estimated to be less than 2000 individuals. They are listed as Endangered in IUCN red list. The species is listed under Appendix I of CITES.


Ganges river dolphin is facing severe threats from water development projects, Pollution, hunting and death due to accidental catch in fishing gear.

Species Conservation Project

With an aim to conserve these endangered dolphins Wildlife Institute of India undertook this project titled “Development of conservation action plan for Dolphins” in 2016.

Under this project we aim to:

1) Develop a recovery plan for Ganges dolphins and their habitats in India.

2) Engagement of stake holders in conservation of river ecosystems in India.

The main objective of this project are:

1) To develop monitoring protocol for dolphins.

2) Status of associated river fauna like Gharial, Otter, Turtles and Fishes.

3) Quality assessment of river habitat in terms of water quality, anthropogenic pressure and landscape surrounding river scape.

4) Evaluate the current status of invasive species in river scape.

5) Involve stake holders to develop a network which will assist in dolphin conservation.