India is hugely blessed with biodiversity in its nature which breaths in different parts of the nation. Numerous wild creatures are found on a large scale, but similarly, there some species which are quite rare to notice in India. Dolphins are comprised of one of the rarest aquatic animals found on the Indian subcontinent. It gives you goosebumps whenever you see a dolphin in the river for the first time, they are such an incredible creature to feel so, and a sanctuary in India is incredibly famous for its dolphins. Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary is India's only sanctuary for its national aquatic animal. The Ganga Dolphin is the national aquatic animal of India and this sanctuary in Bhagalpur, Bihar is the only sanctuary in the country made for the Ganga Dolphin.

The Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary (VGDS) is located in the Bhagalpur district of Bihar. The government of Bihar declared a 60 km segment of the Ganges River between Sultanganj to Kahalgaon in August 1991 as the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The dolphins of Ganga are locally known by the name ‘Soons’. These dolphins live in freshwater and are blind and hence hunt by sending ultrasonic sounds in the water bodies. The ecosystem of an area is considered healthy if Gangetic river dolphins exist in that area, and half of the estimated dolphin population in entire India exists in Bihar. The term used to name Ganga Dolphin in scientific charts is Plantanista Gangetica. The Gangetic river dolphins are one of the four freshwater dolphins in the world, and other species of it are found in the Yangtze River in China, Indus in Pakistan, and Amazon in South America.

At Vikramshila sanctuary, the mean number of dolphins recorded between 2001 to 2003 ranged between 88-174, with an encounter rate of 1.8 dolphins per 1 km. In 2018, the Zoology Survey of India said that around 3000 dolphins have been counted in India and half of their population are found in Bihar and the territory of Vikramshila sanctuary. A rich diversity of other endangered aquatic animals are also part of this sanctuary, including the Indian Gharial, a variety of freshwater turtles, and 135 waterbird species like Purple Swamphen, Indian grey Hornbills, Storks, Kingfishers, Vultures, and so on. Moreover, this place is a huge package for bird watchers and nature enthusiasts.

A large amount of Ganga dolphins is found in the Ganga stream and some populations of it are found in Kosi, Son, Gandak, Ghaghara, Yamuna, Chambal, and their tributaries. But the Gangetic dolphins were declared as endangered on the IUCN Red List due to a decline in its range and population in 2004. Another assessment of fisheries documented 76 fish species of which 43% were caught exclusively in monofilament gill nets, a piece of equipment known to kill dolphins by entanglement.

After realizing the endangerment aspect for Ganga Dolphins, several projects began for the conservation of dolphins and other aquatic animals as well. T. M. Bhagalpur University, Vikramshila Biodiversity Research, and Education Center (VBREC), the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS), the Environmental Biology Laboratory of Patna University are taking initiative for the protection of Ganga dolphins. With the huge efforts of Professor RK Sinha, the savior of Gangetic River dolphin, the Gangetic dolphin was declared as India's national aquatic animal in 2009 by the Government. RK Sinha is also known as Dolphin Man of India, because of his endeavors to save dolphins. Moreover, the CM of Bihar has also announced that a Dolphin Research Center will be open at Patna University, and it will be Asia's first Dolphin Research Center.

Dolphins in the Vikramshila Sanctuary were seen giving their graceful jumps in the river at the time of COVID 19 lockdown due to less human interference, and they could also be seen in a vast number from one place to another in their territory. The sanctuary attracts numerous visitors these days to see these amazing creatures. The authority of Vikramshila Sanctuary has been trying to influence local people and other visitors to explore the sanctuary and enjoy the graceful jumps of the dolphins.


( / Wikipedia /