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|Image Info||Original File Name: Chinese River Dolphin, Lipotes_vexillifer.jpg Resolution: 425x219 File Size: 13652 Bytes Upload Time: 2006:12:05 10:44:54|
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|Subject||Baiji, Chinese River Dolphin (Lipotes vexillifer) - Wiki|
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Baiji, Chinese River Dolphin (Lipotes vexillifer) - Wiki
The Chinese River Dolphin (Lipotes vexillifer) is a freshwater dolphin found only in the Yangtze River in China. The superfamily of river dolphins include also the Boto and the La Plata Dolphin. Other names for Lipotes include Baiji (白??? Pinyin: b??ij??), Beiji, Pai-chi (Wade-Giles), Whitefin Dolphin, Whiteflag Dolphin, Yangtze Dolphin, and Yangtze River Dolphin. It is nicknamed "the Goddess of the Chang Jiang (Yangtze)" (長江女神) in China.
Fossil records indicate that the dolphins migrated from the Pacific to the Yangtze River 20,000 years ago. The dolphins are described in the Han Dynasty dictionary Erya. It is estimated that there were 5,000 Chinese River Dolphins at that time. In 1978, the Chinese Academy of Sciences established the Freshwater Dolphin Research Centre (淡水海豚???究中心) as a branch of the Wuhan Institute of Hydrobiology.
The chronology of the species' rapid decline
1979: The People's Republic of China declares Baiji endangered
1983: National law declaring hunting Baiji illegal
1986: Population at 300
1990: Population at 200
1997: Population at less than 50 (23 found)
1998: 7 found
Its current population is difficult to estimate, but it is thought that there are at least thirteen individuals still alive. Needless to say, that is an extremely low number and is therefore the most endangered cetacean in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. A captive specimen, a male named Qiqi (淇淇), was located at the Wuhan Institute of Hydrobiology from 1980 to July 14, 2002. Qiqi was discovered by a fisherman in Dongting Lake, and later became the sole resident of Baiji Dolphin Aquarium (白???豚水族???) beside East Lake. There was a later captive, which died after living a year (1996 to 1997) in the Shishou Semi-natural Baiji Dolphin Sanctuary (石首半自然白???豚保??????) that had been empty since 1990. A female was found in Chongming Island near Shanghai in 1998, but she did not eat any of the provided food and starved to death within a month.
The November/December 2006, the Yangtze Freshwater Dolphin Expedition (???江淡水豚???考察) has hitherto benn unable to find any individuals, raising the suspicion that the species might be extinct (the last sighting was in 2005. The expedition could not rule out that the failure to locate the individuals was due to the poor water and weather condition, however.
The Baiji Dolphin Conservation Foundation of Wuhan (武???白???豚保???基金), the first Chinese aquatic species protection organization, was founded in December 1996. The Foundation has gathered 1,383,924.35 CNY (about 10,034.02 USD) and have spent the financial resources on in vitro cell preservation and maintenance of the Chinese River Dolphin facilities, including the 1998-flooded Shishou Sanctuary.
Three Gorges Dam
The introduction of the Three Gorges Dam has irrevocably altered the habitat of the Chinese River Dolphin. Scientists however, hope to save the Dolphins with a plan that involves moving some to a nearby lake. If successful the plan would be to re-introduce the species into the Yangtze when the prospect of survival there increases.
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