Tracking without tags! Passive Acoustics Monitoring (PAM) to study transboundary movement of the Ganges River Dolphin

Posted on 26 December 2022

7th December 2022, Kailali: To initiate the study of dolphin movement, WWF Nepal organized a 3 day training on “Passive Acoustic Monitoring of River Dolphins: Using FPODs” in coordination with the Department of Forest and Soil Conservation from 5th to 7th December 2022 in Tikapur, Kailali. 21 individuals participated in the training comprising of representatives from Dolphin Conservation Center, Bardia National Park, Division Forest Offices of Bardia, Pahalmanpur and Kailali, local people living near the dolphin habitat and engaged in dolphin conservation, Terai Arc Landscape Program, WWF Pakistan, WWF India and WWF Nepal. The training was inaugurated by Deputy Director General of Department of Forest and Soil Conservation (DoFSC), Ministry of Forest and Environment. Resource persons for the training were from F-PODs development company Chelonia Limited, Wildlife Acoustic Monitoring based in UK and researchers from Ukraine and Brazil.

The training was primarily focused on understanding the passive acoustic monitoring of river dolphins and the use of FPODs in tracking dolphin movements. It also comprised practical sessions on the deployment of FPODs, retrieving FPODs from the deployment site, data collection, data analysis and results interpretation. An online follow-up training on using software and data analysis and results interpretation is also planned for next month.

Based on the training, F-PODS will be deployed for the first time in the Karnali River of Nepal and in its tributaries to capture clicks of dolphins when they cross the border of Nepal into India and to track and collect evidence on the seasonal movement pattern of the river dolphin. F-PODs are fully automated, static, passive acoustic monitoring systems that detect dolphins by recognizing the trains of echo-location clicks they make to detect their prey, orientate and interact.


The small population in Nepal (52 based on IUCN, 2017) needs to be understood better for their conservation and management. It is critical to understand when these dolphins move across borders or within rivers/tributaries in Nepal and what parameters impact this movement for informed decision-making and managing habitats in a manner that sustain the population in Nepal. Hence, WWF has initiated an innovative project on Tracking River Dolphins Without Tags and introduced F-PODs for the first time in Nepal in coordination with DoFSC, said by Rajesh Sada, Head of Freshwater Programs of WWF Nepal.

Deployments of FPODs in the river
© WWF Nepal/Rajesh Sada
Training on FPODs in progress
© WWF Nepal/Rajesh Sada