, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 323-335

River Dolphins in Bangladesh: Conservation and the Effects of Water Development

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Platanista gangetica

) are threatened in Bangladesh from the effects of dams, large embankment schemes, dredging, fisheries bycatch, directed hunting, and water pollution. Visual surveys of the section of the Jamuna River located between the divergence of the Old Brahmaputra River and the confluence of the Padma River and the section of the Kushiyara River located between the Bangladesh–India border and the confluence of the Korangi River recorded a sighting rate of 0.13 sightings/km (mean group size = 1.8 dolphins) and 0.08 sightings/km (mean group size = 3.8 dolphins), respectively. These sections of river were considered to be priority areas for investigation because several water development projects have already been constructed and more are planned for the areas. During the surveys we examined the remains of dolphins caught accidentally in plastic gillnets and observed fishermen catching the fish species Clupisoma garua using dolphin oil and body parts as a fish attractor. Additional studies are needed to assess the status of dolphins and effects of water development and fisheries bycatch. Feasibility studies should be conducted on designating dolphin/fish sanctuaries and creating artificial habitat or enhancing existing habitat in eddy countercurrent scour pools to mitigate deleterious impacts. The environmental requirements of river dolphins reflect the needs of productive and biotically diverse tropical rivers.