Both these species are categorised in Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, dealing with the endangered animals.
“We are in the process of submitting a proposal to the Centre to provide funds for developing a Gangetic Dophin rescue centre and a Red Panda conservation centre. We have facilities for Red Panda protection schemes in Darjeeling and the hills,” said SB Mondal, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests ( Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden.
According to department officials, the need for a dolphin rescue centre was felt after many instances were reported in which the big mammals strayed from their location in the river stream to another part of the river system. There have also been instances of the animal straying into the irrigation canals downstream from its original habitat.
“We get many cases where the Gangetic Dolphins have strayed downstream from their site and got caught in the irrigation canals. Most of such cases occur with dolphins of Rupnarayan River straying into irrigation canals downstream. Some of them get separated from their group and get stuck in irrigation canals because of low tide. Even after we release them into their original place, we do not have any system of monitoring their condition,” said PK Roy, Additional Principal Conservator of Wildlife.
The proposal seeks to build the Gangetic Dolphin rescue centre in the Rupnarayan river stream. The Rs 10 lakh project site, however, has not been finalised as yet. The Red Panda Conservation Centre, on the other hand, will incur a cost of Rs 50 lakh for the initial five years. Mondal said work is already going on for protecting red pandas in Darjeeling.