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New sanctuaries declared for Asia’s freshwater dolphins

February 24, 2012
"Declaration of these Wildlife Sanctuaries is an essential first step in protecting Ganges River and Irrawaddy dolphins in Bangladesh,"
- Brian D. Smith, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's (WCS) Asian Freshwater and Coastal Cetacean Program

Bangladesh has declared three new sanctuaries to help protect the south Asian river dolphin (Platanista gangetica) in the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest.

Split into two subspecies, the Ganges River dolphin (Platanista gangetica gangetica) and the Irrawaddy River dolphin (Platanista gangetica minor), the new sanctuaries will benefit both. Listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List, the south Asian freshwater dolphin has disappeared from much of its habitat. Already Asia has its other freshwater dolphin species: the baiji (Lipotes vexillifer) was declared functionally extinct into 2006 after a survey of the Yangtze River failed to find a single individual.

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Ganges River dolphin in the Sundarbans. Photo by: Rubaiyat Mansur.

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