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Baiji Dolphin Previously Thought Extinct Spotted In The Yangtze River

Date:
September 1, 2007
Source:
World Wildlife Fund
Summary:
The reported sighting of a Yangtze River dolphin, or Baiji, means there is still a chance for people to take further action and protect the cetaceans in the Yangtze from extinction, according to World Wildlife Fund. Based on the river's geographic and hydrological complexity and the official definition of extinction by IUCN, WWF and many scientists agreed that this species was "functionally extinct", but thought it was still too early to declare its extinction.

Baiji or Yangtze river dolphin (Lipotes vexillifer, Hubei Province, China). This photo is of Qiqi, the only captive Yang tze River dolphin, also called Baiji, which died in the Centre in July 2002.
Credit: Courtesy of the Research Centre for Aquatic Biodiversity and Resource Conservation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Copyright Chinese Academy of Science

The reported sighting of a Yangtze River dolphin, or Baiji, means there is still a chance for people to take further action and protect the cetaceans in the Yangtze from extinction, according to World Wildlife Fund.

The Chinese media reported that a local businessman in Tongling City in east China's Anhui Province filmed "a big white animal" with his digital camera on August 19. The footage was later confirmed to be the Baiji by Prof. Wang Ding, a leading scientist in Baiji study at the Institute of Hydrobiology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

It is the first Baiji reportedly found in the Yangtze since the scientific expedition last year, during which no single Baiji was spotted.

Based on the river's geographic and hydrological complexity and the official definition of extinction by IUCN, WWF and many scientists agreed that this species was "functionally extinct", but thought it was still too early to declare its extinction.

"This sighting presents a last hope that the Baiji may not go the way of the dodo bird," said Karen Baragona, Yangtze River Basin Program leader at World Wildlife Fund. "Other species have been brought back from the brink of extinction like the southern right whale and white rhinos, but only through the most intensive conservation efforts."

WWF has been actively involved in the protection of cetaceans and their habitat in the Yangtze River. "WWF calls for immediate joint efforts to provide a living space for this beautiful animal, which is a key species indicating the health of its habitat -- the Yangtze River. To be effective, efforts must address agriculture, water resources, transportation, environmental protection and sanitation to reduce human disturbance and protect the cetaceans in the river," Baragona said.

Last year, WWF cooperated with other stakeholders to finish drafting a protection strategy and action plan to improve the protection capacity of nature reserves.

"Protections will be implemented under the WWF program to conserve the Baiji and the Yangtze together with related stakeholders," Baragona added.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by World Wildlife Fund. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

World Wildlife Fund. "Baiji Dolphin Previously Thought Extinct Spotted In The Yangtze River." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 September 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070831123429.htm>.
World Wildlife Fund. (2007, September 1). Baiji Dolphin Previously Thought Extinct Spotted In The Yangtze River. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070831123429.htm
World Wildlife Fund. "Baiji Dolphin Previously Thought Extinct Spotted In The Yangtze River." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070831123429.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

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