From the alpine forests in the Himalayas to the mangroves in its delta, the river Ganga supports a wide variety of flora and fauna including tigers, deer, leopards, gharials, turtles and storks. The river is also home to the Ganga river dolphins (Platanista gangetia), which is endemic to the Ganga-Brahmaputra river systems. It is considered one of the most endangered animal in the region.
Although the spiritual purity of river Ganga has remained unchanged through ages, the physical aspects have deteriorated over the years due to over-exploitation of her waters. Various pollutants including cremated corpses, livestock carcasses, industrial wastes and raw sewage are discharged into the river everyday. There have been many attempts to clean up the river (including the Ganga Action Plan launched by the Government of India in 1985), but none have been really successful.
Apart from the river, recent studies have shown that the Gangotri glacier, the source of the Ganga, has been retreating at an alarming rate. This has been mainly attributed to the increase in population, mass deforestation and global warming. Thus, if measures are not taken up, a holy dip in the river could be a thing of past for the future generations.