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Rare dolphin spotted in the Yangtze River


Beijing, China – The reported sighting of a Yangtze River dolphin, or baiji, means there is still a chance to protect cetaceans in the Yangtze from extinction.

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 19 August. The footage was later confirmed to be a baiji by Professor 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 a 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.

“The finding of baiji proved our thoughts and presents a last hope to save the species with strengthened measures,” said Dr Zhu Jiang, Senior Programme Officer at WWF-China’s Wuhan Office.

“Efforts are needed, now more than ever, to provide a living space for this beautiful animal, which is a flagship species for the Yangtze River.”

WWF has been actively involved in the protection of cetaceans and their habitat in the Yangtze River. Last year the global conservation organization cooperated with other stakeholders to finish drafting a protection strategy and action plan to improve the protection capacity of nature reserves.

“The protection strategies and action plan will be implemented under the WWF-HSBC programme to conserve the baiji and the Yangtze together with related stakeholders,” Dr Zhu added.


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