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Bait and Watch
Published by R. K. Sinha, 01 Jun 2004
Popularisation of alternatives to dolphin oil among fishermen for the conservation of the Ganges river dolphin (Platanista gangetica) in Bihar. The endangered Ganges River Dolphin, already threatened with extinction due to shrinking habitat was under added threat because of its oil that was used by fisherman as an attractant to commercially useful fish. The author’s discovery of an alternative oil from fish scraps gave a new lease of life to the Ganges River dolphin. This is a report on the RAP.
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Ingenuous ideas rival large-budget projects as a conservationist's best buddy. Many a time, small, novel projects do much more good than large repetitive ones. An idea by a professor from Patna University and his students of finding alternatives to dolphin fat for use as fish bait is one such story. River dolphins are extremely threatened mammals and even in our times, the Chinese dophin 'baiji' has been declared extinct. The Ganges River dolphin is an equally threatened aquatic mammal. Among its many threats, its capture by fishermen who use its fat as fish-bait is one of the most worrisome. This Rapid Action Project of WTI supported a team of conservation-oriented academics, who had come up with an alternative fish based fish-bait. The project field tested the product and also introduced the concept among a group of fishermen in Patna. While this is only a small project and was restricted to only one locality, the field trial of new ideas can lead to bigger things. As this encapsulates the spirit of a RAP in its entirety, I am very happy that this occasional report can capture it.

Vivek Menon
Executive Director, WTI
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