Gangetic River Dolphin

Gangetic River Dolphin

This article covers “Daily Current Affairs” and the topic details “Gangetic River Dolphin”. This topic has relevance in the “Environment and Ecology” section of the UPSC CSE exam.


For Prelims:

What are the characteristics of Gangetic River Dolphin? 

For Mains:

GS3:  Environment and Ecology


Why in the news?

A recent report from scientists and researchers discloses that 19 Gangetic river dolphins were successfully saved from the irrigation canals within the Ganga-Ghagra basin in Uttar Pradesh from 2013 to 2020.


About Gangetic River Dolphin 

  • The Ganges River Dolphin (Platanista gangetica), is a toothed whale belonging to the Platanistidae family. These dolphins represent one of the Earth’s ancient species, sharing this distinction with certain types of turtles, crocodiles, and sharks. 
  • The discovery of the Ganges river dolphin dates back to the year 1801. It is India’s National Aquatic Animal. 


  • Ganges River Dolphins predominantly inhabit the freshwaters of Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna rivers, spanning across the regions of India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. 
  • They have adapted well to these river systems’ murky and swiftly flowing waters.


Distinctive Appearance: 

  • Gangetic River Dolphins are renowned for their unique physical traits. They possess a lengthy, slender beak and a hump on their back, setting them apart from other river dolphins. 
  • Their colouring typically leans towards greyish-brown, lacking the conventional dorsal fin observed in marine dolphins.



  • Gangetic River Dolphins employ echolocation to navigate and locate prey in the turbid waters like their dolphin counterparts. 
  • They emit sound waves that bounce off objects, returning to them and assisting in creating a mental map of their surroundings.



  • Their diet mainly consists of various fish species found in freshwater rivers.
  • Gangetic River Dolphins are skilled hunters and use their sharp teeth to capture and consume their prey.



  • These dolphins have a slow reproductive rate, with females giving birth to a single calf every 2-3 years. The gestation period lasts for around 9-10 months.


Conservation Status: 

  • According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Gangetic River Dolphin holds an endangered status. 
  • It is legally protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. 
  • It is listed in Appendix 1 of both the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS).



  • The construction of over 50 dams and various irrigation projects has fragmented Ganges river dolphin populations, isolating them into distinct groups. 
  • This isolation increases the risk of inbreeding and heightens their vulnerability to additional threats as they cannot migrate to new areas. 
  • Their population has declined due to various threats, including habitat degradation, pollution, and accidental entanglement in fishing nets.


Initiatives for conservation: 

    • Project Dolphin: 
      • Initiated in 2020 by the Prime Minister, Project Dolphin focuses on preserving Ganges river dolphins and the riverine ecosystem. 
      • The Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change, India, financially supports the project. 
      • It systematically monitors the species’ status and potential threats to develop and implement a conservation action plan.
    • Wildlife Institute of India: 
      • Since 2016, the Wildlife Institute of India has been actively involved in developing a Conservation Action Plan for the Gangetic River Dolphins through their Species Conservation Programs, funded by CAMPA. 
      • The plan from 2022 to 2047 has been formulated to ensure the well-being of the river dolphin and aquatic habitats.
  • Protected Areas: 
  • Important habitats of the Gangetic river dolphin along the Ganges river have been designated Protected Areas, such as the Vikramshila Dolphin Sanctuary in Bihar.



Download Yojna daily current affairs eng med 12th Oct 2023


Q1. With reference to the Gangetic River Dolphin, consider the following statements: 

  1. They are only found in freshwater river systems. 
  2. Unlike the Dolphins, these Gangetic River dolphins cannot navigate and locate prey in turbid waters.
  3. Being vegetarian, their diet mainly consists of various plant species found in freshwater rivers.

Which of the statements given above is/are NOT correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 3 only 

(d) None 

Answer: (b) 


Q2. Consider the following with reference to Gangetic River Dolphins:

  1. Dolphins are one of the oldest creatures in the world.
  2. Vikramshila Dolphin Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh has been designated a protected area for these dolphins. 

Which of the abovementioned statements is correct?

(a) 1 Only 

(b) 2 Only 

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2  

Answer: (a)

Q3. Discuss the challenges facing the conservation of the Gangetic River Dolphin and the initiatives aimed at addressing these challenges, highlighting their importance and effectiveness in ensuring the survival of this endangered species.

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