The End for the Baji?

Posted on January 17, 2007

The search for baiji, a rare white dolphin that lives in the Yangtze River, has ended in sad failure. The expedition failed to find a baiji indicating the species is likely soon to be extinct.

A report in CBS News says there could be a few baiji in eastern China but the numbers are too small to ward off extinction.
The white dolphin known as baiji, shy and nearly blind, dates back some 20 million years. Its disappearance is believed to be the first time in a half-century, since hunting killed off the Caribbean monk seal, that a large aquatic mammal has been driven to extinction.

A few baiji may still exist in their native Yangtze habitat in eastern China but not in sufficient numbers to breed and ward off extinction, said August Pfluger, the Swiss co-leader of the joint Chinese-foreign expedition.

August Pfluger, the Swiss co-leader of the joint Chinese-foreign expedition, says in a statement, "We have to accept the fact, that the Baiji is functionally extinct. We lost the race. It is a tragedy, a loss not only for China, but for the entire world. We are all incredibly sad."

The expedition was run by a small network of specialists including scientists and freshwater conservation experts.

Here's a video about baiji from the National History Museum. The are listed as critically endangered on the ICU Red List.

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