'Save tigers first, then think about dolphins'

Published: 07 November, 2011 09:13 IST | Adnan Attarwala |

Wildlife activists flay state government's project to set up dolphin parks in Sindhudurg, say money should be utilised to protect the national animal

Wildlife activists flay state government's project to set up dolphin parks in Sindhudurg, say money should be utilised to protect the national animal

Slamming the state government's multi-crore plan to set up dolphin parks along the Arabian Sea coastline in Sindhudurg, wildlife activists have opined that this will not only ruin the ecology of the place but also be stressful for the dolphins that will be brought here.

Tourism at a cost: Wildlife activists say proposed dolphin park at
Sindhudurg will disrupt marine ecosystem and endanger dolphins if they
cannot adapt to the new environment. Representation Pic

Activists say that instead of spending the money on setting up a dolphinarium, the amount should be utilised on the conservation of tigers in the state, which is the need of the hour. Reportedly, the tiger population that is stable at 169 in Maharashtra, is being threatened by all sorts of sporadic developments. At present, there are 21 tigers in the Sindhudurg region.

   Last week the state government gave a nod to the Rs 510 crore plan of building a dolphin and water theme park with restaurants to enhance tourism. The park would be built on a public-private partnership model and construction would be on the lines of a dolphin park in Florida.

The Humane Society International (HSI) a wildlife group has strongly urged Chhagan Bhujbal, Minister for Tourism and Public Works to reconsider his support to build the parks, as capturing dolphins from the wild could not only be harmful to them, but also to marine ecosystems, especially in the region where no special facilities for them exist.

HSI experts have said that since the public display of whales and dolphins is declining in popularity it would be regressive for India to build a dolphinarium. Its construction would require substantial environmental disruption and if wild dolphins fail to adapt to the conditions, an entirely separate host of environmental facilities will have to be introduced.

Campaign manager of HSI Jay Simha said, "It has not been proved anywhere in the world that dolphinariums would enhance knowledge of wildlife. This park at Sindhudurg instead will create huge amount of stress to the animals and will have an impact on the ecology of that place. Transportation on the other hand could threaten their population as it might result in death or injury of the animal. A breeding member cannot be captured and removed from a group without thorough assessment."

Apart from this, Care2 Action Alert, a petition site too has received about more than 1,500 signatures from people opposing the plan by the state government. Wildlife expert Anish Andheria said that even though many species of dolphins are found in Indian waters, a change of place could heighten their mortality rate.
"We have to see in what conditions they will be kept. But instead of setting up a park, money should be utilised in protecting the tigers in Maharashtra, which is more important, " he added.

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