Apr 062013
 


The Yangtze finless porpoise population has declined to a mere 1,000 individuals, making the endangered species even more rare than the wild giant panda, the 2012 Yangtze Freshwater Dolphin Survey Report reveals.

 The population in the mainstream of the Yangtze River was less than half of what a similar survey found six years ago, with food shortages and human disturbance such as increased shipping traffic major threats to their survival.

A Yangtze finless porpoise found in Dongting lake, China on April 15 2012. Some 32 finless porpoise deaths have been reported since the beginning of the year.© Xu Dianbo

Every death brings the Finless Porpoise closer to extinction.© Gao Baoyan / WWF

Finless Porpoises lack a dorsal fin.© Gao Baoyan / WWF

The study also found that the rare species annual rate of decline now stands at 13.7 percent, which means that the Yangtze finless porpoise could be extinct as early as the year 2025.

The report comes after a 44-day and 3,400-kilometer round-trip research expedition on the Yangtze River between Yichang in Hubei Province and Shanghai. Led by China’s Ministry of Agriculture and organized by the Institute of Hydrobiology (IHB) at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, WWF and the Wuhan Baiji Dolphin Conservation Fund, the expedition first set sail on 11 November 2012.

The crew visually identified 380 individual Yangtze finless porpoise in the river’s mainstream during the 2012 survey. Based on this observation, scientists determined through analyses that the population in the Yangtze mainstream is about 500, down from 1,225 in 2006.

In October 2012, research was carried out in two adjoining lakes, the Poyang and Dongting, where the population was about 450 and 90, respectively, according to the report.

In a sharp contrast, 851 individuals of Yangtze finless porpoise were visually identified in the mainstream of the Yangtze during the 2006 survey. That research, however, did not cover the two lakes.

“The species is moving fast toward its extinction,” said Wang Ding, head of the research expedition and a professor at the IHB.

Attempts to find traces of the Baiji Dolphin, another rare cetacean and close relative of the finless porpoise, failed during the 2012 survey. The Baiji dolphin was declared “functionally extinct.”

According to data captured by acoustic equipment onboard the observation ships, the largest numbers of finless porpoise were found in the river sections east of Wuhan, with 67 percent recorded between Hukou in Jiangxi Province and Nanjing in Jiangsu Province, the report shows.

There is a notable sign of scattered distribution pattern which could be the result of “shipping traffic that made migration harder, projects that altered hydrological conditions in the middle and lower reaches and habitat loss,” said Wang with the IHB.

The report also cautions that small groups of Yangtze finless porpoise living in comparative isolation may have a negative impact on their ability to reproduce.

There are fewer finless porpoise in the mainstream of the Yangtze while more discoveries were made in wharf and port areas, scientists found.

“They may risk their lives for rich fish bait resources there. But busy shipping traffic close to the port areas poses a threat to the survival of finless porpoise,” said Wang.

“Lack of fishery resources and human disturbances including shipping traffic are among the key threats to the Yangtze finless porpoise survival,” Lei Gang, director of freshwater programme at WWF-China, said.

Researchers found dense distributions of finless porpoise in waters that are not open to navigation and attribute this to less human disturbance. Less optimistic was the discovery of illegal fishing practices in these areas, including traps that could affect finless porpoise.

A set of enhanced measures that include in-situ conservation and ex-situ conservation approaches are essential for efforts of saving the species from its distinction, said Lei.

Given that, the report calls for all-year-round fishing ban for all river dolphin reserves, establishment of a national reserve in Poyang Lake and ex-situ conservation reserves along the Yangtze.

This article was written by Qiu Wei, WWF China

Share this post with your friends





Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply

avatar
trackback

[…] The study also found that the rare species annual rate of decline now stands at 13.7 percent, which means that the Yangtze finless porpoise could be extinct as early as the year 2025. https://focusingonwildlife.com/news/yangtze-finless-porpoise-population-nosedives-to-1000/ […]

Top-Viewed Posts Last 30 Days

  1. POLL: Should Japan be sanctioned for slaughtering dolphins and whales? – [3279 Views]
  2. POLL: Should the UK finally abandon its controversial badger cull? – [2167 Views]
  3. POLL: Should fox hunting legislation be repealed in the UK? – [2156 Views]
  4. POLL: Should the trophy hunting of Grizzly Bears be banned nationwide? – [2010 Views]
  5. Arctic Fox and Snowy Owl Filmed Doing Strange ‘Dance’ – But Why? – [1735 Views]
  6. How Sea Shepherd lost battle against Japan’s whale hunters in Antarctic – [1259 Views]
  7. POLL: Should We Revive Extinct Species? – [1117 Views]
  8. POLL: Should the Cheetah be classified as “Endangered”? – [1110 Views]
  9. It’s a Miracle! Wisdom Lays an Egg at Age 67 – [1035 Views]
  10. POLL: Should drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge be banned? – [974 Views]

Top-Viewed Posts Last 12 Months

  1. POLL: Should hunting with hounds be banned? – [7727 Views]
  2. Gray Squirrels versus Red Squirrels – The Facts [4858 Views]
  3. POLL: Should there be a worldwide ban on fur farming? – [4186 Views]
  4. POLL: Should the trophy hunting of bears and wolves be banned? – [4055 Views]
  5. POLL: Should foxes be culled to protect domestic pets? [3799 Views]
  6. POLL: Should Japan be sanctioned for slaughtering dolphins and whales? – [3279 Views]
  7. POLL: Should the slaughter of badgers in the UK be finally stopped? – [3077 Views]
  8. POLL: Should the cruel sport of bullfighting be banned? [2873 Views]
  9. POLL: Should Canada ban the hunting of seals? [2667 Views]
  10. POLL: Should the Tories be allowed to bring back fox hunting? [2578 Views]