Yes, Nepal has dolphins! UNDP helps communities conserve endangered species

Yes, Nepal has dolphins! UNDP helps communities conserve endangered species
Yes, Nepal has dolphins! UNDP helps communities conserve endangered species

August 2006; Commonly known as 'Susu', Ganges River Dolphins are found in Nepal, Bangladesh, India and Bhutan. Experts blame low political will and the absence of grass root support as the key factors leading to this unique specifies facing extinction today.

The population of river dolphins are declining at a rapid rate of 10% annually. 'If present trends continue, there may be little time to save the vulnerable Ganges River dolphins,' says the World Wildlife Fund.

With the help of UNDP, the Global Environment Facility, and the World Wildlife Fund, more than 5,000 people recently joined a celebration organized in Bhajani (Kailali district) by the Dolphin Conservation Centre, which was aimed at raising awareness about the urgent need to protect this unique native of Nepal.

In between cultural shows and environmental messages, festival participants learnt about local dolphin conservation efforts, like that of Mr. Bhoj Raj Shrestha.

Several years ago Mr. Shrestha started to collect catapults with the help of school children. His message to the children was clear: 'don't use catapults to kill birds or hit leaping dolphins for fun'. His efforts paid off. School students started to collect catapults and tenderly nicknamed him, 'Guleli Baje', or catapult father.

The villagers valued his work and soon began supporting his campaign. For him, the conservation ethic is very simple: 'conservation starts at home,' he says. True to his ethos, the 72-year old hunter-turned-conservationist, has established the 'Shrestha Private Forest' on his two hectare land. Today, many egrets and herons come to roost safely in this oasis.

With the help of the local kids and the villagers, Mr. Shrestha has collected more than 3,000 catapults, saving the lives of countless birds and dolphins. But even more so, Mr. Shrestha's catapult collection campaign has motivated young people in the area to learn about the importance of conservation, moving one step closer to securing the future of Nepal's river dolphins.