The Centre has declared dolphins a national aquatic animal in order to save the rare freshwater species from disappearing from the country's aqua map.
"Like we have tiger as a national animal and peacock as a national bird, we have declared dolphins as a national aquatic animal as it represents the health of the rivers, particularly Ganga in the country," Union Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh told media persons in New Delhi.
He said the decision was taken at the first meeting of the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to streamline steps to rejuvenate the river Ganga.
"Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had proposed naming dolphins as national aquatic animal at the meeting, which was approved by the Authority," Ramesh said.
He felt that by declaring dolphins as a national aquatic animal, the government is not only ensuring the survival of the species, which are endemic to river Ganga but also seeking cleansing of the river.
Ramesh maintained that as the big cat is a symbol of ecosystem in forests, the presence of river dolphin in a river system too signifies a healthy aquatic life in freshwaters of rivers."Since the river dolphin is at the apex of the aquatic food chain, its presence in adequate numbers symbolises greater bio diversity in the river system," the minister added.