In the peaceful reign of the Mauryan King Ashoka, rock edicts dictated to the kingdom the list of animals that the citizens could kill. The same list particularly forbade citizens to kill ‘Puputaya’. That Puputaya or the Gangetic Dolphins (as we know them) are now being killed mercilessly across the basin of the Ganga. Called ‘Sons’ in local language, this ecological heritage has been listed as an endangered species by the World Conservation Union in 1996 and they are among the last four species of fresh water dolphins in the world. According to researchers (from Patna University), the numbers of these dolphins have plummeted sharply from about 3,500 in 1980 to about 1,500 now. The same research in the 506-kilometre downstream stretch of Ganga (starting from Buxar) estimated their number to go down from 664 in 2005 to 560 this year. Even in Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary (the only freshwater sanctuary in India) their numbers have dipped from 95 to 83 in the same period. Experts have warned that despite all the claims on ‘Saving the Dolphin’ (WWF even has Shweta Bachchan as Dolphin Ambassador), illegal poaching (for meat, skin & oil) and high levels of riverine pollution are destroying them. It’s said that the vanishing Dolphin more or less reflects the sickness of river Ganga. If we ever intend to save the Dolphins, we must proceed to tackle the two Ps – (pollution & poaching) urgently.