CHINA WILDLIFE: Hopefully we are learning!? Scientists’ bid to save Yangtze porpoises….

Map of conservation efforts of the baiji (Lipo...
Map of conservation efforts of the baiji (Lipotes vexillifer) along the Yangtze (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: On the Yangtze River in China, just b...
English: On the Yangtze River in China, just before sunset. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CHINESE scientists began a survey of the dwindling population of an endangered porpoise in the country’s longest river yesterday, as the animal edges towards extinction from man-made threats. Shanghai Daily reports.

COMMENT: The finless purpose has been featured at LearnFromNature before – plus the Yangtze river dolphin being declared extinct – should be a clear warning signal that something needs to change, and promptly!   

 

Finless Porpoise at Miyajima Aquarium, Japan.
Finless Porpoise at Miyajima Aquarium, Japan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Researchers will spend more than a month tracking the finless porpoise – known as the “river pig” in Chinese – in the Yangtze River, China‘s longest waterway at more than 6,000 kilometers, organizers said.

It marks the most comprehensive survey of the species, found only in China, since 2006 when a similar expedition found just 1,800. The current number could be far lower, the scientists said.

“Our expectation is maybe only 1,000 of them are left, but we have to see how it turns out from the survey,” said Wang Ding, a research professor at the Institute of Hydrobiology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

“People have started to think of the finless porpoise as the symbol of the Yangtze River which also indicates the current status of the river,” said Wang, who is leading the expedition.

The 2006 expedition declared another species, a freshwater dolphin called the Baiji, to be extinct.

The finless porpoise has been hurt by human intrusion and environmental degradation, said global conservation organization WWF.

Deaths of the creature have been caused by boat strikes and fishing gear accidents as well as degradation of rivers – and food sources – due to pollution and drought blamed on climate change.

To save the porpoise, immediate action was needed to keep the Yangtze River and its lakes healthy, said Lei Gang, director of WWF China’s freshwater program.

“This means better laws and enforcement. We need to see harmful fishing practices stop, sand-dredging better controlled and new reserves developed,” Lei said

The WWF has said the porpoise could become extinct in 15 years if no action is taken.

Waterways in China have become heavily contaminated with toxic waste from factories and farms – pollution blamed on more than three decades of rapid economic growth and lax enforcement of environmental protection laws.

Hydropower projects on the Yangtze have also been blamed for upsetting the delicate ecological balance in the river.

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