GUWAHATI, Aug 22 - The Brahmaputra and its adjoining floodplains lakes hold hundreds of species of macro-invertebrate, herpeto-fauna and avian fauna, and the most fascinating fauna of the mighty river is the endangered Ganges dolphin (Platanista gangetica gangetica). Only a few pockets are now left in the Brahmaputra which may be the last habitat for this national aquatic animal. This was observed by Prof SP Biswas, Head of Department of Life Sciences, Dibrugarh University. Prof Biswas was delivering the Dr Robin Banerjee Memorial Lecture organised recently by the Kaziranga Wildlife Society in Guwahati.
Delivering the lecture on ‘Threats and Conservation of Aquatic Fauna of the Region’, Prof Biswas said that siltation of the riverbed and widening of the river is a common scenario in almost the entire stretch of the Brahmaputra. Further, he added, the erratic nature of water discharge, high rates of erosion and siltation, and habitat destruction are having negative impacts on commercial fishery and on the mega-faunas like giant cat fishes, feather-back, mahseer and turtles. “Their numbers are dwindling sharply in the upper stretches. The Ganges dolphin is the hardest hit among the aquatic fauna,” he said.
“It is important to gather knowledge on the present status of wildlife and the threats they are facing, before working on conservational strategies,” said Mubina Akhtar, secretary, KWS, and added that the NGO has been organising the memorial lecture with this view, inviting experts to throw light on some of the most urgent issues on important wildlife, especially of those in the region. Internationally acclaimed filmmakers S Nallamutthu and Mike Pandey, wildlife experts Dharanidhar Bodo and Dr Anwaruddin Chouhury were guests on earlier occasions.
The lecture programme also included presentation of KWS’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The three recipients of this year’s award – which carries cash and a citation – are Majnur Hussain of Hajo, Ananda Khataniar and Nagen Choudhury of Bajali. They were selected for their single-handed efforts to increase green cover by planting and taking care of thousands of saplings in their respective areas.
Former Principal of Cotton College Dr Anil Goswami, retired Information Commissioner Mohan Chandra Malakar and Indrajit Dutta, former president of KWS, gave away the prizes. KWS vice-president and Managing Editor of DY365 Pranay Bordoloi, while lauding the efforts of the awardees, said the State needs more such efforts at the grassroots. Padum Borthakur, president KWS, who chaired the meeting, summarised the journey of the NGO founded in 1969.
Earlier, former presidents of KWS Ramani Kanta Deka and Abani Baruah reminisced about events from the life of Robin Banerjee and the immense contribution he had made in the field of conservation.