A survey conducted by the The World Wide Fund for Nature-India in collaboration with the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department has concluded that the dolphin population in the Ganga river has increased from 22 in 2015 to 33 in 2018.

The survey, held under the My Ganga, My Dolphin programme was conducted from October 10 to October 15 over a stretch of 205 km from the Bijnor barrage to the Narora barrage along the river, the Hindustan Times reported. State forest officials said that of the 33 dolphins found along the stretch, three were calves. They said this indicated that slow-breeding dolphins have flourished, and that the river had healthy diversity.

“The major dolphin population is found beyond Allahabad, Varanasi and Balia districts, besides a small population found between the two barrages in western Uttar Pradesh,” WWF-India Senior Coordinator Sanjeev Yadav said. “In the survey, we found 30 adults and three calves. This is an encouraging sign as dolphins are slow breeders but their population is increasing as they find sustainable environments and habitat.”

Lalit Verma, the conservator of forests (Meerut) for the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department also called the survey results “encouraging”. “We have ‘water schools’ run by WWF-India, to help sustain dolphins, and sensitise village residents,” he said. “They now regard dolphins as a part of their ecosystem.” Nearly 70 schools near the surveyed stretch have thus been identified, the Hindustan Times said.