Leap of joy

Dolphin sanctuary at Satpada

Published: Monday 31 October 2005

after years of peril in the waters of Chilika, the prized Irrawady dolphins have finally found a home of their own. India's largest brackish water lake will now have a dedicated sanctuary at Satapada for the Irrawady dolphins. Chief minister Naveen Patnaik took this decision at a meeting of the Chilika Development Authority (cda). The state government will prepare a master plan for the development of eco-tourism in the lake including the sanctuary. This will be the second of its kind as Chilika already has a bird sanctuary in the Nalaban Island.

The number of Irrawady dolphins at Satapada is estimated to be more than 100. However, mortality rate has crossed 10 per year and is a cause of worry for the government. Plying of motorboats and large fishing nets are stated as reasons behind this. Dolphins are a major tourist attraction and enthusiasts had long been demanding for a separate sanctuary.

To protect these creatures, only traditional boats will be allowed in Satapada. The boatmen will be made aware of these precautions. Though the declaration seems quite ambitious its application will remain the key. An eye needs to be kept on a strong prawn mafia working in the region for a lucrative multi-crore industry, which has repeatedly prevented any environment protection activities in the Chilika lake.

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