15 August 2020
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his 74th Independence Day speech, announced the launch of Project Lion and Project Dolphin.He stated that this is coming after the resounding success of Project Tiger and Project Elephant.
- Project Lion would involve conservation of the Asiatic Lion, and its landscape.
- The project will entail habitat development by engaging modern technologies in management and addressing the issue of diseases in lion and its associated species through advanced world-class research and veterinary care.
- The project would also address the Human-Wildlife conflict. This would involve local communities living in the vicinity of lion landscape, and would also provide livelihood opportunities.
- Project Lion announced by PM will not only entail enhanced finances and duration, but address all the issues required to conserve a species.
- There has been a 29 per cent increase in the population of Asiatic Lions that live in Gujarat’s Gir forest, taking the number from 523 in 2015 to 674 in 2020. The period also witnessed a distributional increase in the lions, from 22,000 square kilometres in 2015 to 30,000 square kilometres in 2020 – an increase of 36 per cent.
- Using the latest technology, the focus will be on health management and holistically providing world standard care, addressing all that is required to conserve a species.
- The Ministry has approved the project for three financial years—FY 2018-19, FY 2019-20 and FY 2020-21
- Project Dolphin is aimed at the conservation of the Gangetic Dolphins – both riverine as well as the oceanic dolphins in India.
- River Dolphins, are a flagship species to indicate a healthy riverine ecosystem and are a flagship species for monitoring the conservation status of rivers.
- The Gangetic Dolphin was declared a National Aquatic species in 2010. It is an indicator of the river ecosystems.
- Conservation of the Gangetic Dolphin would also assist in bringing down the pollution in rivers thereby improving the population of fish in these rivers which in turn support the economies of local communities.
- The Gangetic River Dolphin is found in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli rivers from India to Nepal to Bangladesh.
- Latest assessment reports have found that there are 3700 Gangetic Dolphins in India’s river systems.
- The MoEF is slated to soon launch the 10-year Project Gangetic Dolphin.
- It involves conservation of Dolphins and the aquatic habitat through the use of modern technology—specially in enumeration and anti-poaching activities.
- It will engage the fishermen and other rivers and ocean dependent population, and will strive for improving the livelihood of the local communities.
- The conservation of Dolphin will also envisage activities which will also help in the mitigation of pollution in rivers and the oceans.
Protection Status of Dolphin:
- IUCN Status:Endangered in the Red List of IUCN.
- Listed under CITES Appendix -1
- Gangetic Dolphins have been classified under Schedule-1 of Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
- The only sanctuary for dolphins is Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary located in Bhagalpur District of Bihar, India. The sanctuary is a 60 km stretch of the Ganges River from Munger to Kahalgaon in Bhagalpur district. Designated in 1991, it is protected area for the endangered Gangetic dolphins in Asia.
Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project:
The Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project is an initiative of the Indian Government to provide safeguards to the Asiatic lion from extinction in the wild by means of reintroduction. The last wild population of the Asiatic lion is found in the region of Gir Forest National Park, in the state of Gujarat.