Target: Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav of Utter Pradesh, India
Goal: Conserve critically endangered Gangetic river dolphins and gharials in the Yamuna River.
The Yamuna is the largest tributary river of the Ganges in northern India. This major waterway provides a highly fertile alluvial tract of land known as the Yamuna-Ganges Doab and serves as one of the holiest shrines in Hinduism. Bathing and drinking in the Yamuna Rivers water is still practiced, but in many areas it is highly polluted by the runoff of fertilizers and toxins from commercial activity and waste disposal from households and cities. Excessive pollution has tragically caused this auspicious body of water to resemble an open sewer.
Pollution of the Yamuna River is devastating to its local wildlife, including the Gangetic river dolphin and the gharial. Gangetic river dolphins, also known as ‘susu’ for the sound that they make while breathing, are rare freshwater cetaceans that swim on their sides. They have small eyes that lack a crystalline eye lens, leaving them effectively blind, and they have a long pointed nose, and flat, bony, disk-like teeth. Gharials are a type of fish-eating crocodile. They are extremely long with narrow jaws. Male gharials are able to hiss through their bulbous snouts.
Each of these unique creatures, which are endemic to India, has undergone both chronic long-term and rapid short-term declines in their populations. They are critically endangered of extinction because of the degradation of India’s river habitats by the construction of dams and excessive river pollution. Other anthropogenic activities such as the use of gill nets have harmed these animals by accidentally entangling them as bycatch. Hunting by fishermen also prevents the recovery of these limited animals.
There are less than 300 breeding gharials left in the world and only around 600 Gangetic river dolphins. In the Yamuna River, a shockingly scarce thirty-one dolphins were counted in a recent survey. While these endangered species and other wildlife face many threats in this area, their long-term survival is possible if they are protected by the local government immediately. Please sign this petition to urge the Chief Minister of the state of Utter Pradesh to take action to save the Yamuna River’s wildlife.
Dear Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Utter Pradesh
The Yamuna River is highly important for the social, spiritual, economic, and ecological benefits that it provides to your local community and to visitors from around the world. It is unfortunate that poor management has led to excessive pollution, threatening the safety and beauty of this special place. The runoff of fertilizers, toxins, and waste from households, along with degradation of river habitats from uncontrolled mining, fishing, and development has adversely affected the populations of the beautiful and unique animals that reside in the Yamuna River.
The decline of Gangetic river dolphins and gharials indicates the loss of the Yamuna River’s ability to support the many human and non-human lives depending on it. However, if government and communities work together and take action immediately, long-term survival of these species and the integrity of the Yamuna River is possible. I urge you to protect this precious river and its wildlife by promoting natural farming and eco-sanitation, increasing river health assessment, monitoring village health, and enforcing the proper management of solid waste. Engaging the community with awareness of biodiversity and responsible fishing practices will also improve conservation by minimizing hunting and fishing gear conflicts. Please act to serve the best interest of your people by increasing the efforts to restore the health of the Yamuna River.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Sourabh Phadke via indiawaterportal.org