Bunched-up nets hidden among riverbank boulders was one give-away. When the locals cast the nets, they not only capture golden mahseer (carp) and catfish, they may also catch endangered aquatic species. Top on that list is the Ganges River Dolphin.
Once endemic to Nepal, India and Bangladesh, the population of the fresh water aquatic mammal has dwindled to fewer than 2,000 in the wild, out of which fewer than 100 dolphins still swim Nepal’s rivers.
Much of the danger to the dolphin is from fishing gear, poaching for dolphin oil, damming of rivers, and pollution. The Karnali is Nepal’s longest river and the only significant one that has not yet been dammed, but several large projects are planned on it and its tributaries.