Enduring Lochaber’s horsefly hell for the sake of Ganges dolphins

Luke Coleman is walking the length of the UK to help save rare freshwater dolphins in the Ganges River.

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Luke Coleman and his dog Tuke are walking the length of the UK from John O’Groats to Lands End to raise money for a project working to save the Ganges Dolphin.

Luke reached the summit of Ben Nevis on Saturday July 17, and so far has raised more than £1,400. He seems to have spent most of his journey so far in the north of Scotland quite pleasantly, foraging for mushrooms, wild garlic, trout, seaweed, winkles, and mussels.

However, all that seemed to change in Lochaber on July 19, as told in a Facebook post titled ‘horse fly hell’. ‘Oh man, it’s like a torture chamber out there!’ Luke said on his Facebook page, Walking the UK to save the Gangetic Dolphin.

‘Seriously, there are so many horseflies. I’ve found myself a hill with a breeze. I’ve lit myself a fire, and I seem to get away from them, but as soon as I get down there, they are all over me, and it’s hard, man. It’s really hard. So, I’m waiting for the sun to go down and I am going to kick on. I have not made much ground today because I have been hiding up here away from the flies!’

Why is Luke enduring such hell? Well, it’s a cause close to his heart, if not to Lochaber, concerning the River Ganges 4,000 miles away. ‘The Gangetic Dolphin is a species of freshwater dolphin found in the Ganges River which flows through India and Nepal,’ Luke explains on his gofundme page: ‘Sadly this little known species is at risk of extinction due to pollution, river construction projects such as dams and climate change.

The Ganges Dolphin, pictured, is one of only three species of fresh water dolphin left. Photograph: SaveTheGangeticDolphin. NO F31 ganges
The Ganges Dolphin, pictured, is one of only three species of fresh water dolphin left. Photograph: SaveTheGangeticDolphin.
NO F31 ganges dolphin

‘The Ganges Dolphin is one of only three species of fresh water dolphin left, since the extinction of the Yangtze Dolphin. Once present in tens of thousands, its numbers are dropping at a worrying rate, from about 4500 as recently as 1982 to an estimated 1800 now. There are many strains on the population, including dam building, pollution and depletion of river water.

‘I have written a children’s novel about the Gangetic Dolphin aimed at raising awareness of these beautiful creatures amongst the next generation in India, and I am walking from John O’Groats to Lands End to raise money to publish this novel, which will then be donated to schools along the Ganges River.’

You can learn more on Luke’s website www.savethegangeticdolphin.org, and follow his walk via instagram @lukeandtuke