07 June 2016 Current Affairs: Guwahati became first city in the country to have its own ‘city animal’ with Kamrup metropolitan district administration declaring Gangetic River Dolphin as its mascot on 6 June 2016.Gangetic River Dolphin is locally known as ‘Sihu’ and fewer than 2000 such animals remain in the River Brahmaputra along Guwahati.
The district administration had organised online and off-line voting among three protected creatures to decide the ‘city animal’. These three creatures are Gangetic River Dolphin, Black Softshell Turtle (Bor Kaso) and Greater Adjutant Stork (Hargila) and are on the verge of extinction.
In the three-month long voting process Gangetic River dolphin received 24247 votes out of 60003 total votes.On the other hand, the Greater Adjutant Stork got 18454 votes while the Black Softshell Turtle got 17302 votes.
The Kamrup metropolitan district administration organized the voting process along with other organisations such as the Assam forest department, Assam state biodiversity bard and an NGO, Help Earth.
Gangetic River Dolpin : The Ganga Dolphins are also called as the ‘Tigers of Ganga’ as it enjoys the position in Ganga that is equivalent to that of the tiger in the forest.Its scientific name is Platanista gangetica.Ganges River Dolphins prefer deep waters, in and around the confluence of two or more rivers. They share their habitat with crocodiles, fresh water turtles and wetland birds.The distribution range of the Ganges River Dolphins in India covers seven states namely, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
Rivers where these dolphins are found : River Ganges, Chambal (Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh), Ghaghra, Gandak (Bihar and Uttar Pradesh), Sone and Kosi rivers (Bihar), River Brahmaputra from Sadia up to Dhubri and Kulsi River, a tributary of the Brahmaputra river,
The Ganges River Dolphin has a sturdy, yet flexible, body with large flippers and a low triangular dorsal fin. It weighs up to 150 kg. Females are larger than males.
The Gangetic Dolphins are generally blind and catch their prey by emitting an ultrasonic sound which reaches the prey.
A Ganges River Dolphin Conservation Programme was initiated in 1997 to build a scientific database of the population status of the species and study the habitat quality of the dolphins' distribution range.