Ganges River Dolphin

Conservation Education Programme

Educating Schools and Community for sustainable actions for conserving habitat of Ganges River Dolphin along Ganga River Basin

Ganges River Dolphin

Ganges river dolphin (Platanista gangetica gangetica) popularly known as Souns or Susu is an elusive aquatic animal which represents the health of the river systems it inhabits. These dolphins were found in large numbers till a few years ago. But now their number has come down considerably. Its estimated current population is approximately 1200-2000 individuals which is found in India.


It is distributed along Ganges, Brahmaputra, Karnaphuli–Sangu and Meghna river systems, and their tributaries, from the foothills of the Himalayas to the limits of tidal zone in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and probably Bhutan. The existing population is in the form of small fragmented sub-populations.

The threat to this mammal is largely due to the degradation of its river habitat and poaching. A major threat to the Ganges river dolphin has been due to extensive damming of rivers for irrigation and electricity generation, oil exploration, underwater noise which isolates its populations and prevents seasonal migration. Other threats include chemical pollution, boat traffic, hunting and human disturbances, accidental \ entanglement in plastic/nylon fishing nets also occurs. This species is hunted for oil, fish bait and food by local people. Ganges river dolphin, one of the four freshwater dolphins in the world, is facing extinction, and features as Schedule-I animal in the Wildlife (Protection) Act-1972. It has been recognized as ‘endangered' by IUCN Red List of threatened species and listed in Appendix I of CITES.

To bring focus to its conservation, Ganges river dolphin has been notified as the national aquatic animal of India. Every year 5 October is also observed as Dolphin Day.  

Ganges river dolphin – Conservation Education Programme

Dolphin experts and scientists have prepared a conservation action plan for the period of 2010-2020 where one of the action points is focused on education and awareness about the dolphins. Centre for Environment Education, Northern regional cell (CEE North) with the support from National Mission for Clean Ganga as part of the National Ganga River Basin Authority, Government of India has approved a three year Ganges river dolphin – conservation education programme for Ganga basin focusing on Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

This initiative aims at reaching out to schools, river side community and youth. The project is being implemented along the river Ganga and its tributaries flowing through Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. As part of the project, schools and villages are involved in these states with following objectives:

  • To conduct Ganges river dolphin conservation education activities in schools at 20 dolphin locations in Ganga river basin.
  • To develop and disseminate educational and awareness promotion materials for schools and community.
  • To sensitize farmers and fishing communities about the importance of conserving Ganges river dolphin and rivers for their life and livelihood.
  • To build capacity of farmers and fishing communities living close to dolphin habitat at selected locations for adopting sustainable farming and fishing practices along with alternative livelihood options.
  • To engage youth in promoting eco-tourism activities and volunteering for river and its biodiversity conservation activities.

Dolphin School Clusters

Under the initiative, CEE envisaged role of schools in promoting awareness about dolphins along Ganga Basin in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. To form school clusters, 10 locations were identified in each State. The selection of these locations was based on Ganges river dolphin's presence and prevailing threats in those locations. In each location, a cluster was formed including 30 – 35 schools which was based in 3-5 kms range from river bank. Over 750 schools were selected by CEE with the help of local partner NGO and education department. A set of educational material has been developed by CEE for schools to guide them to conduct classroom, school level and community level activities.

Schools were enrolled in the programme and a teacher in charge was trained. Each school was provided with set of resource material to help teacher conduct activities. In each school, a group of students formed a ‘Dolphin club' or ‘Sons Samooh'. Series of cluster level awareness events were done to reach out to entire school and community. In each cluster, an active school was selected to form a Dolphin Resource Centre where educational resources were provided.

Each school conducts activities and record their experience in a report. Best performing schools are awarded with Souns Mitra Puraskar.

Apart from these dolphin locations, awareness activities are conducted in non-dolphin locations to spread awareness and sensitize children about National Aquatic Animal. Schools are also provided the opportunity to attend dolphin camp to observe and know species closely. 

Dolphin Village Level Interventions

To engage local community in conservation processs, CEE identified 10 gram panchayats in both the States. In Uttar Pradesh, a dolphin location on tributary of Ganga was selected in Bahraich district along Ghaghara. Similarly in Bihar, project villages were identified in Bettiah, West Champaran along Gandak River. Presence of dolphin, pressure on river due to use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, socio economic status of community etc. were considered in selection of villages. Baseline survey and participatory rural appraisal was conducted to do the need assessment. Series of awareness programmes were done in these villages to sensitize farmers and fishermen community about the importance of conserving Ganges river dolphin and rivers for their life and livelihood.

Skill based trainings and exposure visits in the field of organic farming methodologies, animal husbandry, disaster risk reduction etc. were organized to help community to build capacities and for making informed decisions. Along with this demonstration of sustainable and alternate livelihood options were done to reduce pressure from river resources. These demonstrations involved vermi composting units, bio pesticides units, riverbed farming, high yielding varieties and adopting organic methodology, bio-shield of river bank, alternate energy options, sanitation activities etc.

Youth volunteers were selected from each village to support and monitor River based commnity level activities. Ecotourism is promoted at locations where dolphins are found in protected areas.


The initiative is being implemented in close collaboration with State Education Department, Forest Department and local stakeholders.

The Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation is responsible for laying down policy guidelines and programmes for the development and regulation of country's water resources. Government of India has given Ganga the status of a National River and has constituted the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) on 20th February 2009 under section 3(3) of the Environment Protection Act, 1986. The NGRBA is a planning, financing, monitoring and coordinating body of the centre and the states. The objective of the NGRBA is to ensure effective abatement of pollution and conservation of the river Ganga by adopting a river basin approach for comprehensive planning and management.

Monitoring of bio-indicators for successful implementation of River Cleaning efforts found prominence in the 1st meeting of NGRBA held on 5th of October 2009 under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister. Accordingly, a Working Group was constituted to prepare an action plan for conservation of Gangetic Dolphin. The working group submitted its action plan and Ministry of Environment and Forests subsequently notified the Ganges River Dolphin as the National Aquatic Animal on the 10th of May 2010.

National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) is a registered society to co-ordinate and implement at the national level various activities of the NGRBA programme including the World Bank assisted National Ganga River Basin Projects. Ganges river dolphin conservation education programme is one of the key action areas of the NMCG.

For more information see:

Centre for Environment Education (CEE) is a national institution engaged in developing programmes and material to increase awareness about the environment and sustainable development. CEE was established in 1984 as a Centre of Excellence in Environmental Education, supported by the MoEF, GoI. It is affiliated to the Nehru Foundation for Development.

For more information see: 

The Northern Regional Cell of CEE was set up at Lucknow in October 1995 to coordinate and implement CEE's programmes and activities in the northern region. The Cell is engaged in organizing regional EE programmes and developing locale-specific EE materials. CEE North has been working on rivers and Ganges river dolphin conservation education since its inception.

Local partner NGOs working in the field of environment and biodiversity conservation are involved in the project for school cluster activities.

In Bihar, partner NGOs are Alnoor Educational and Welfare Society, Gopalganj; Global Environmental Organization (GEO), Bhagalpur; Gram Pragati, Bettiah; Gramyasheel, Supaul; and Science for Socio Economic Development, Begusarai. In Uttar Pradesh, partners are Bharat Udai Educational Society, Meerut; Ganga Sansthan, Faizabad; Katerniaghat Welfare Society, Katerniaghat, Bahraich; VASERA Society, Allahabad; Vikas Evam Shikshan Sansthan Samiti, Varanasi and TSA-India, Jarwal, Bahraich.


Project Secretariat

Centre for Environment Education

Northern Regional Cell (CEE North)

83, Bal vihar colony, Faridi Nagar Road, Lucknow (226 015). Uttar Pradesh



For details on project, see brochure and get updates of the project on Project Facebook Page: saveganga.savedolphin

For more details see programme brochure.

  With the support from Ministry of Environment and Forests, Centre for Environment Education has initiated a two year awareness and education programme for conservation of the Susu and the aquatic ecosystem of which it is a vital part. The selected project implementation areas are the major riverside areas where Susu is found in Ganges and Brahmaputra river system of northern, eastern and north-eastern India.

The programme involves carrying out a year-long intensive conservation education programme in schools, involving primarily school teachers and students, and through them reaching out to the larger community, including the fisher folk. The programme components include development and dissemination of Information, Education and Communication (IEC) material for schools and general public.

The programme will be implemented in four States viz Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal through CEE's offices located in each State with the help of various project partners and experts. The programme aims to reach to 500 schools in these states by identifying 20 locations and forming cluster of 25 schools at each location.

For more details see programme brochure.

CEE North
19/323, Indira Nagar
Lucknow - 226 016
Uttar Pradesh
Tel: 0522 - 2716628
Fax: 0522 - 2716570