What’s Killing China’s Rare River Porpoises?

Once again China is at the forefront of more animal deaths and a species headed toward extinction because of their actions. 16 endangered finless porpoises have been found dead since the beginning of this year. This porpoise lives mainly in China’s Yangtze River and two lakes linked to the waterway and has been there for more than 20 million years. Experts blame water pollution by the Chinese and climate change for pushing the species toward extinction. The freshwater porpoise is referred to in Chinese as the “river pig”.

In the year 2006, China was estimated to have only 1,200 finless porpoises left. That same year, the Baiji, a freshwater dolphin also native to the Yangtze River was declared extinct. Now earlier this year a survey found just 65 “river pigs” in Dongting Lake and only 300-400 in Poyang Lake. Experts have warned the species will be extinct within a matter of a decade and a half at the rate they are dying off.

According to Wang Kexiong, a researcher at China’s Institute of Hydrobiology, water pollution, shipping, sand dredging and illegal fishing were all possible contributing factors to the recent deaths. Added to that is the fact that many waterways in China are heavily contaminated with toxic waste from factories and farms. This is all pollution as a result of more than three decades of rapid economic growth and lax enforcement of environmental protection laws. China is an ardent believer in the old adage that says "The end justifies the means".

Another possibility is that climate change also could be to blame since disrupted weather patterns have caused water levels to drop and make it more difficult for the porpoises to find food.
Tests have shown that some of the porpoises are believed to have died of starvation. However following these recent deaths, residents of Yueyang City have vowed to investigate and increase protection of the remaining porpoises in Dongting Lake. That however will remain to be seen.

VIDEO China’s Rare River Porpoises

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