River dolphins under threat in Nepal

Posted on
26 May 2006

Katmandu, Nepal – Six months of field research conducted by WWF along Nepal’s longer river, the Karnali, shows that river dolphin populations are stagnant and remain more endangered than ever.

River dolphins are some of the most endangered of all the world's cetaceans and at risk of extinction from habitat loss, hunting by humans, and naturally low numbers.

Formerly quite abundant, the overall population of Ganges river dolphins (Platanista gangetica) is now probably fewer than 100 dolphins in Nepal, with the group of about 20 in the Karnali River.

“Dolphins in the Karnali face the threat of local extinction unless conservation efforts are stepped up immediately,” said Dr Chandra Gurung, WWF Nepal’s Country Representative.

“The situation requires urgent action because dolphins, being at the top the food chain, are indicators of a healthy aquatic ecosystem.”

The WWF Nepal study — Status, distribution and conservation threats of Ganges River dolphins in the Karnali River, Nepal — is based on research conducted on river dolphins in the Karnali River system in the western lowland of Nepal from July 2005 to February 2006. The study will be discussed at a two-day regional meeting on the conservation and management of river dolphins in Asia, being held in Kathmandu, Nepal, from 26–27 May.

For further information:
Neera Shrestha Pradhan, Freshwater Officer
WWF Nepal Programme Office
E-mail: neera.pradhan@wwfnepal.org

Sophia Tamot, Communications Officer
WWF Nepal Programme Office
E-mail: sophia.tamot@wwfnepal.org