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Gangetic dolphin meat sold openly in India’s Assam Province

Fish vendor discovered selling meat at roadside market
Gangetic river dolphin, Platanista gangetica
Local environmental groups outraged by slaughter
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"It is quite unfortunate. The present population of the Gangetic River Dolphin in the rivers of Assam is about 400.”

— Abdul Wakid, head of the Gangetic Dolphin Research and Conservation Initiative

The Gangetic River Dolphin, India’s national aquatic animal, is being slaughtered for its meat in the state of Assam. A fish vendor was discovered to be selling dolphin meat at a roadside market in Lezai-Kalakhowa in Assam’s Dibrugarh district. A local woman photographed the vendor and informed wildlife activists of Nature's Beckon and Irab Kirab regarding the incident.

Following outrage by environmental groups, police registered a case and have initiated an enquiry. Initial findings revealed the dolphin was caught from the nearby Burhidehing River. Abdul Wakid, head of the Gangetic Dolphin Research and Conservation Initiative called Aaranyak, stated the matter has been taken up with the forest department. Local residents claimed dolphin meat is often sold in the rural markets. The perpetrators, however, have yet to be apprehended.

"It is quite unfortunate. The present population of the Gangetic River Dolphin in the rivers of Assam is about 400. The worldwide population is around 2000. During summer, when the water level of the Brahmaputra rises, dolphins tend to migrate upstream to the tributaries and smaller rivers. This is the time they are caught by fishermen. Apart from the Brahmaputra, the species is found in its tributaries Kulsi and Subansiri," said Wakid.

The Gangetic River Dolphin (platanista gangetica) was declared the state aquatic animal by the Assam government in 2008. Anyone found killing or possessing any part of the animal can be imprisoned for 1-6 years and fined no less than Rs 6,000.

Highly endangered, the freshwater Gangetic dolphin or Susu grows to a maximum length of 8 feet and weighs about 100 kg. Residing in one of the world’s most densely populated regions , the species is threatened due to habitat loss resulting from the creation of dams and irrigation projects.

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