Endangered Irrawaddy dolphins count increase in Chilika Lake

The Chilika Development Authority and the State Wildlife Wing recently carried out an annual dolphin census in the Chilika lake. According to the report of the census, the overall Irrawaddy dolphin population in the lake has increased from 146 to 162 in 2021.

What are the reasons behind the increase in Irrawaddy Dolphins population?

  • The main reason behind the increase in the population of the Endangered Irrawaddy Dolphin population is the persistent enforcement by the Chilika Development Authority (CDA). The authority has taken strict actions against the encroachment in the Chilika lake. Around 25,223 hectares in the lake were under illegal prawn gheries.
  • In 2019, the Odisha High Court ordered to demolish prawn gheries in the wetlands of the state.
  • Since 2018, the CDA has freed up 15,163 hectares from encroachment.
  • Also, restriction on tourism in 2020 due to COVID-19 gave the dolphins an inviolate space.

Key Findings of the Census

  • The census found 342 dolphins of three species in the lake. There were only 62 of these species the previous year.
  • Around 281 humpback dolphins and twenty-two bottle nose dolphins were sighted by the survey.

Irrawaddy Dolphins

  • The Irrawaddy Dolphins have been listed under Endangered category in the IUCN Red List.
  • The Dolphin distribution in Chilika lake is the highest single lagoon population.
  • These dolphins are mainly found in three rivers namely Mekong (China), Irrawaddy (Myanmar) and Mahakam (Indonesian Borneo).

Chilika lake

  • It is the world second largest lagoon.
  • In 1981, the lake was designated as the first Ramsar site of India.
  • The main attraction of the Chilika lake is the Irrawaddy Dolphins. They are often spotted off the Satpada island.
  • The Nalabana island in the lake was declared as bird sanctuary in 1987.

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