Sundarbans still not safe haven for dolphins as before

Sundarbans still not safe haven for dolphins as before

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Dhaka – Dolphins are still not safe in the marine protected swatch of no-ground areas of the Bay of Bengal and the Sundarbans’ dolphin sanctuaries, according to a wildlife expert, unb news agency reported.“Fishermen have been catching fish in the marine protected swatch of no-ground areas through the unplanned use of nets, while ocean-going ships running through the areas, putting dolphins at risk,” senior researcher of the US-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Jahangir Alam said.
He said some 130 dolphins were killed in the areas during January 2007 to April 12, 2016 by trapping them through fishing nets and ship propellers.
According to forest officials, at least five species of dolphins and several species of whales are found in the dolphin habitat located in the 1738-square kilometer swatch of no-ground areas of the Bay of Bengal. The government declared it as a marine protected area in 2014.
At least six species of dolphin and one of porpoise move around there safely as water and environment of rivers of the world’s largest mangrove forest are suitable for dolphins.
Jahangir Alam, also coordinator of Bangladesh Cetacean Diversity Project (BCDP), said although the government announced three areas of the Sundarbans as dolphin sanctuaries three years ago, dolphins even are not safe in the protected areas.
He said the authorities concerned are yet to implement the management plan that they prepared to protect dolphins in the rivers of the mangrove forest.
In 2012, Bangladesh Forest Department declared three areas of the rivers and canals in the Sundarbans covering 32 kilometres as dolphin sanctuaries.
Around 12 km from Ghagmari check-post of Chandpai Range to Karamjal check-post through Dhangmari canal and Pashur River, 15 km from Jongra check-post to Andharmari check-post through Mrigamari check-post and five km from Dudhkhali check-post to Supati canal through Bemara canal have been declared safe havens for the endangered species.
Dolphins move around mostly in the rivers of Dhangmari, Chandpai, Andharmanik, Dudhmukhi, Betmore and Patakata of the Sundarbans East Zone under Khulna and Bagerhat districts, said Jahangir.
A joint survey conducted by WCS and BCDP in 2010 revealed that there were 225 Gangetic river dolphins, 6,000 Irrawady dolphins, over 1,000 Bottlenose dolphins, about 1,400 finless porpoises, and a significant number of Indo-Pacific Hump-backed dolphins, Pan-tropical Spotted dolphins and Spinner dolphins in the Sundarbans and adjacent water bodies and the swathe of no-ground areas.
Dolphins are also found in the rivers of Brahmaputra, Jamuna, Meghna, Karnaphuli and Sangu rivers.
Divisional forest officer Md Saidul Islam (Sundarbans East Zone) said fishermen are not allowed to catch fishes using nets in the dolphin sanctuaries of the Sundarbans and the forest department takes legal action against the fishermen found in catching fish there.

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