Sunday, December 17, 2006

Another One Bites the Dust

The Chinese River Dolphin (Lipotes vexillifer) WAS a freshwater dolphin found only in the Yangtze River in China. Other names include Baiji, Yangtze River Dolphin, Beiji, Pai-chi, Whitefin Dolphin and Yangtze Dolphin.

Although the dolphin was nicknamed "Goddess of the Yangtze" in China and efforts were made (but only to "some" extent?) to conserve the species, the population declined drastically in recent decades. It was declared "functionally extinct" after an expedition in late 2006 failed to find any in the river.
Time Evolution: (wikipedia)
* circa 3rd century BC: population estimated at 5,000 animals
* 1950s: population was estimated at 6,000 animals
* 1958-1962: The Great Leap Forward
* 1979: The People's Republic of China declares the Chinese River Dolphin endangered
* 1983: National law declares hunting the Chinese River Dolphin illegal
* 1984: The plight of the baiji draws headlines in China[5]
* 1986: Population estimated to be 300
* 1989: Gezhouba Dam complete
* 1990: Population estimated to be 200
* 1994: Construction of the Three Gorges Dam begins
* 1996: IUCN lists the species as critically endangered
* 1997: Population estimated to be less than 50 (23 found in survey)
* 1998: 7 found in survey
* 2003: Three Gorges Dam begins filling reservoir
* 2004: Last known sighting, a stranded dead dolphin
* 2006: None found in survey, declared "with all probability extinct"

My question would be is if Chinese people actually have fished out this species or the whole conjecture was more decisive in establishing this result. After all, who would eat dolphins?? They are quite scarce everywhere except aquariums, they are the second smartest creatures after (sometimes even above some of) us, friendly and playful, without any flaws that could justify such barbaric acts that led to their extinction.

But here it is people. Just sad.:-(

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