According to the BBC, conservationists are increasingly concerned over the future for the Bangladesh river dolphins since they are now threatened not only by pollution, over-fishing, accidental deaths caused by fishing nets, and shortage of prey, and but also by declining freshwater supplies. The situation is especially serious for the Ganges River dolphin and the Irrawadday dolphin. These two freshwater dolphins are both living in the south-western region of Bangladesh, and a majority of the specimens can be found in the famous Sunderbans mangrove forest. The Ganges river dolphin prefers mangrove channels that receive plenty of freshwater while the Irrawadday dolphins live further downstream where the water in the mangrove channels are of higher salinity.

According to dolphin expert Elisabeth Fahrni Mansur, water extraction upstream in India and sea-level rises have cause the salinity of the river dolphin habitat to change. These changes in salinity might not only be a problem to the dolphins, over 30,000 Bangladesh fishermen relay on the aquatic life of the Sunderbans mangrove forest for their daily livelihood.

The Bangladesh Cetacean Diversity Project (BCDP) and the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) have now suggested that a protected area for dolphins consisting of three priority sites should be created in the Sunderbans mangrove forest. This will not affect the salinity of the water, but it will at least provide some refuge for the dolphins while the try to combat all the other problems.

Elisabeth Fahrni Mansur also wishes to work together with local fishermen to save the dolphins. Her idea is to get the fishermen to safely release dolphins from the nets and collect samples and basic information from dead specimens. In exchange, the fishermen will be provided with comparatively inexpensive GPS-systems and depth sounders which allows for safer navigation during bad weather.

You can read more here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7192200.stm