Patna, Oct 3 (IANS) Bihar plans to develop a dolphin watch centre along the Ganga river here as a major tourist attraction as well as to raise conservation awareness about the endangered mammal declared as India's National Aquatic Animal.
"It (dolphin watch centre) will be developed as a tourist attraction on the lines of whale and dolphin watching centres in Canada and Japan," Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi told IANS Wednesday.
"The government's initiative would link the conservation of Gangetic river dolphin with tourism," he said.
The proposed centre will come up along the Ganga river near Patna, where dolphins are still sighted, Modi added.
"Of the over 2,000 Gangetic dolphins left in India, nearly 1,300 are in Bihar," Modi added.
The deputy chief minister said that Bihar would celebrate Oct 5 as 'Dolphin Day' to create awareness about the endangered species.
"Dolphin Day is a part of the Wildlife Week being observed from Oct 2-8," he said.
The Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary, India's only such sanctuary spread over 50 km along the Ganga river, is located in Bhagalpur district, around 235 km from here.
Gangetic dolphins are being killed at an alarming rate by poachers for their flesh as well as oil, which is used as an ointment and aphrodisiac. Their carcasses are regularly found on the river's banks.
The Gangetic river dolphin is one of the four freshwater dolphin species in the world. The other three are found in the Yangtze river in China, the Indus river in Pakistan and the Amazon river in South America.
The mammal is covered under the Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act and has been declared an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Last year, the Bihar government decided to set up a task force for the conservation of the endangered animal.
Earlier this year, a Gangetic dolphin research centre, the first such centre in the country, was set up in the Bihar capital.
The Gangetic river species - found in India, Bangladesh and Nepal - is blind and finds its way and prey in the river waters through echoes.