We had reported in April how Gangetic dolphins have returned to the Hooghly river ( With decreasing pollution dolphins make a comeback to Kolkata) and how many had people spotted the aquatic mammal in the days following the lockdown. But it seems the lockdown hasn’t been able to root out the ‘viruses’ responsible for the disappearance of the dolphins from the river in the first place — human beings. In perhaps one of the first instances of man-animal conflict, a young gangetic dolphin was literally tortured to death by a bunch of young men.
The incident came to light after one Rafiku Saihk uploaded a video (Vigo Video ID 80826578705) that showed a group of men holding the dolphin by its snout and tail and basically torturing it. Though the exact location of the incident hasn’t been ascertained yet, it is evidently a place on the banks of Hooghly somewhere between Kolkata and Burdwan. Another video uploaded by the same user showed the mammal being released into the river in a bloodied state.
After seeing the video, noted environmentalist Biswajit Roychowdhury’s organisation has complained about it to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and the matter is under investigation. “We are assuming that the place is in between Kolkata and Burdwan and hoping that the culprits will be brought to book soon,” Biswajit told us.
He added that the dolphin in the video is an infant, probably a few weeks old. Asserting that dolphic rescue is an extremely delicate job, Biswajit added, “The mammals have very sensitive skin and the way it has been handled, as shown in the videos, it is likely to be dead despite being released in water.”
Incidentally, environmentalists have been warning of a rise in man-animal conflicts in the days post the lockdown. Environmentalist Joydeep Kundu said in the absence of human activities, the animals and birds had started coming out, especially around highways, which still have a lot of green cover. “But as soon as high-speed vehicles start to operate, accidents will increase. I implore people to drive carefully at least in the first few months after the lockdown is lifted,” he said.
Biswajit agreed but said things can be really different if we approach it with care. “A few weeks ago, we had spotted smooth-skin otters near Burdwan. It was a rare incident. But I am afraid if we are not aware and careful, man-animal conflicts with turn violent after the lockdown in over,” he said.