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Irrawaddy Dolphins Resighted In Chilika’s Rambha Cluster

Thanks to over a month-long initiative in evicting the squatters from the tranquil water of Chilika Lake, Irrawaddy Dolphins have returned back to their congenial habitat in Rambha after a three-decade-long hiatus.

The encroachment in the form of prawn dykes in the midst of the water-body had taken a toll on the smooth movement of itinerant aquatic animals. The re-sighting of threatened dolphins following three decades in the wake of dismantling of prawn enclosures has made it ample clear, said officials.

The World Wide Fund (WWF) for nature representatives have successfully captured dolphins lurking in the water in frozen frame. Four Irrawaddy dolphin species have been re-sighted. It augurs well for the aquatic animal kingdom of Chilika, said CDA Chief Executive Sushanta Nanda.

There is every possibility that more aquatic species including the Irrawaddy Dolphins would re-sighted in coming days because of the encroachment-free habitation corridors.

Chilika, much acclaimed as Asia’s largest brackish water lake, was subjected to wanton prawn dyke enclosures. Human interference in the form of illegal prawn enclosures (gheries) had choked the vast expanse of the water body. The hindrances were coming in the way of unhindered movement of aquatic species. With major chunk of the lake now freed from encroachment, dolphins have found newer avenues for hassle-free movement, he said.

The dolphins have been re-sighted in Rambha. It was way back in the late eighties, these delicate aquatic animals could be spotted along the brackish water lake. The re-sighting could only be made possible due to eviction drive undertaken to make the lake-encroachment-free, he said.

The lake traverses through Ganjam, Khurda and Puri district. The eviction drive is nearing closure in Ganjam and Puri district. The eviction drive would be further intensified in a phased manner next week. CDA has already cleared 4,000 hectares encroached area. Though drive has been carried out protest-free with wholehearted support from government agencies, much more remains to be done as the satellite imageries have captured 14,590 hectares areas under money-spinning prawn cultivation.

The dolphins had disappeared from Rambha area of the lake due to prawn enclosure induced obstructions. Now it will be an ideal habitat for these aquatic species.

The brackish water lagoon had recorded a marginal drop in the population of Irrawaddy dolphins from 144 in 2015 to 134 this year. The Irrawaddy species has been accorded endangered status because of dwindling population. Globally the number of Irrawaddy species found stands at around 7,500.  Chilika is incidentally home to the highest single lagoonal population of Irrawaddy Dolphins.


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