Dolphins in the Sundarbans

The waterways of the Sundarbans are full of surprises - including dolphins. Dolphins are among the most important aquatic fauna in the Sundarbans and even in the entirety of Bangladesh. As a global sanctuary for two of Asia's remaining freshwater species, the Sundarbans offer visitors a rare chance to view these incredible creatures in the wild. The Ganges River Dolphin and Irrawaddy Dolphin are two species of freshwater dolphins seeking refuge in the Sundarban rivers. Greater Bangladesh supports the world's largest population of Irrawaddy Dolphins, which numbers about 6,000 individuals along the southern coast of Bangladesh, including the Sundarbans. Thanks to the Wildlife Conservation Society Bangladesh's decade-long research and conservation efforts, the Bangladesh government declared three areas of the canals in Sundarbans covering 32 km as dolphin sanctuaries in 2012 to heighten their protection. These sanctuaries protect not only dolphins but several other aquatic species as well.

These mammal populations face many threats. These include anthropogenic activities such as unsustainable fishing practices, using illegal gillnets, rising salinity, river pollution, noise pollution, etc. Due to these factors, both species have disappeared from significant portions of their traditional ranges. Yet, they occur in sufficient numbers in the Sundarbans, which intensifies the significance of this mangrove forest and its ongoing protection. Dolphin conservation activities include research, community awareness and education programs, advanced patrolling to minimize wildlife crime, and policy advocacy.

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