The Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, is home to two freshwater dolphin species – the endangered Ganges River Dolphin and Irrawaddy Dolphin.
A three-year project involving about Tk1, 284 crores was taken to conserve these freshwater dolphins.
With the project deadline set for December, officials say 80 percent of the work has already been completed. The rest of the work will be finished within the stipulated time, said Project Director Rezaul Karim Chowdhury.
“No decision has been taken to extend the project’s deadline. The survey findings will be published by the government,” Rezaul Karim said.
With financial support from Global Environment Facility (GEF), the project, taken in 2016, aims to bring about a massive change in the way the Sundarbans is managed.
The project is being implemented in the Sundarbans and surrounding areas by the Forest Department and United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
One of the main activities of the project is to locate the important dolphin sanctuaries besides gathering and using necessary information related to the conservation of those sanctuaries.
The activities also include finding any gap in the research on the dolphin species and solving them, social use of resources, creating alternative employment for local populace dependent on fish resources, and reapplying the strategies for effective management of the Sundarbans environment.
To meet the sustainable development goals, this project will ensure the declaration and conservation of the protected area for 10 percent of Bangladesh’s marine aquatic environment.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury explained that although the project was taken in 2016, the work began in September the following year due to delay caused by various formalities.
“The survey of dolphins has not been completed even though the deadline is approaching. No decision has been taken to extend the deadline,” he said.
There were 451 Irrawaddy Dolphins and 225 Ganges River Dolphins in the rivers of the Sundarbans according to 2006 statistics.