Last & Least
Mindless killing of dolphins
Dr Binoy Barman
Something is wrong with the behaviour of the fishermen in the Bay of Bengal. They are killing dolphins indiscriminately. They brutally beat and injure the dolphins entangled in their nets and throw them in the sea. It has been reported during the last two months of 2009 that a good number of dead dolphins, bearing severe injury marks, were found lying in different parts of shore in Cox's Bazar. It is really horrible.
Indiscriminate killing of dolphins will have a devastating effect on environment. The rotten bodies on the beach spread stink and pollute air and water. It will also destroy the ecological balance, affecting food chain in nature. The question of humanity also cannot be avoided. Killing animals with no plausible reason does not glorify human nature. What kind of heart does a human being have? How can they be so cruel? Not only human hand is tainted with blood but the heart is also darkened with this atrocity.
The particular species of dolphin that is found in the Bay are rather harmless and peaceful. They come here during the time of mating and other times swim afar. Dolphins are said to have developed brain, meaning advanced level of intelligence, characteristic of primates. Though living in water, they can hardly be called 'fish'; they are mammals. They have great attachment with human beings. They rarely attack any human. Rather there are so many stories in which they saved the life of people in danger. They often protect swimmers from shark attack. They are aptly acclaimed as the friends of men in sea.
Even a few decades ago, when water was not polluted and there was appreciable navigability, dolphins were seen in almost all the rivers of Bangladesh. I suppose river dolphins are a different variety from the sea ones. In my childhood and adolescence I personally saw them jumping on the waves of Shitalakshya. We called them 'Shu-machh' in local dialect (it is better known as 'shushuk' in Standard Colloquial Bangla). I took a fear of the bizarre-looking aquatic creature while swimming in the river though their friendliness to human beings was well established. (I just wondered why they should not come upon humans when they were running after their piscine prey.) Sometimes dolphins were caught in net but the fishermen never consumed the long-mouthed plump creature. They sold them to others who would take its fat for curing rheumatism. I don't know whether it has any such healing power. But what I know is that dolphin meat is high in mercury and may pose health hazard to humans if consumed.
But what might be the cause of the killing spree of such a beautiful harmless creature, which has great affinity with human race. What has made our fishermen crazy? It is clear that they are not killing them for money, as they are not sold. They just kill and throw them. Is it for fun? Why are they so angry and inflicting their anger on the innocent creature? Do the fishermen consider them as a curse or a bad omen? One reason may be that fishermen are not getting sufficient catch and they are holding dolphins responsible for this. If so, then it is a false idea of the fishermen. Dolphins eat fish but not in such volume that it will affect fishermen's catch.
Whatever may the cause of the mindless killing, it must be stopped. This species of dolphin has been rare nowadays. They are threatened worldwide. The alleged killing of dolphins should be investigated. It should be found out why the fishermen are showing no mercy to them. What has made them hurt a friend? Our fishermen have to be made aware of the consequences, drawing their attention to the legal aspect. The importance of protecting wildlife should be explained to them. The killing is against law and nature. At any cost, we have to save the near-extinct fantastic aquatic mammal. That is our prime responsibility as inhabitants on earth.
The writer is Assistant Professor and Head, Department of English, Daffodil International University.