Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Wildlife News: Baiji Dolphin - Functionally Extinct

"The Baiji is Functionally Extinct. Lipotes vexilifier is the first species of cetacean – whales, dolphins and porpoises – to disappear from our globe in modern times… the first large mammal to go extinct as a result of man’s destruction of their natural habitat and resources.

The disappearance of the Baiji from our planet is a tragedy for animal lovers around the world – and a tragic milestone for international animal conservation."

Those were the words of
August Pfluger on the baiji.org blog

Photo by Cetacean Society International

Last week when researchers came back empty-handed after an expedition to find any traces of the dolphins in their native Yangtze River habitat in China, the realization dawned on many that we were actually witnessing extinction in action.

It is an incredibly tragic situation - that a highly specialized and unique species of
freshwater dolphin should be allowed to disappear so easily from an area that was once its stronghold. Conservationists involved in the race to save the species, themselves admit that all their efforts were made too late.

Although the expedition itself found no dolphins, they believe that there may be one or two still surviving along the length of the river - but this still marks the Baiji as being functionally extinct - a species needs at least 25 indivuduals in its population to ensure its continuity...

The last Baiji was seen in the wild back in 2004, and the last captive Baiji died in 2002. This latest news finally sounds a tragic death knell for a remarkable and unearthly beautiful creature.

The news, as reported by the BBC:

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