Monday, January 12, 2015

Understanding the social issues involved in conservation

We have now left Bangladesh and our next stop is India. Here we are following our character Subhasis Dey who is the field coordinator for the dolphin research group headed by Dr. Sunil Choudhary of Bhaglapur University. Subhasis spent the majority of his life here in this city in northern India in the region of Bihar. He has now worked for this research group for many years and is most likely one of the most critical members to their success. Why? The reason is that along with coordinating the research teams field activities on the water, Subhasis has also established very solid personal relationships with the local villagers and fishermen.

Subhasis talks to a fisherman and his wife as they do their morning chores (Photo: JLewis, TDRF) 
In this region along the Ganges, and in other parts along this river, there has been a significant reduction in fish stocks (which the dolphins reply on to survive). Much this reduction can be attributed to the recently adapted use of mosquito nets to catch the small fish and fish eggs that still can be found in the rivers. These nets are made of the material that was created to use for hanging over your bed to keep mosquitos away while sleeping. It is a tiny, tiny mesh size. And for that reason, the fishermen have chosen to use this material to now build nets of all kinds and fish traps. The result is devastating for fish stocks.

Because Subhasis took the time to create bonds of real friendship with the local people who depend on the river, he is in a position to really investigate the problem, and then to educate and negotiate. This is something critical if changes will be made for the continued existence of the fish, the dolphins and the health of the river.