Farewell to the Baiji – Yongchen Wang

Environmentalist and journalist Yongcheng Wang wrote the following column for Chinadialogue:

The baiji, one of the world’s four species of freshwater , left the oceans 20 million years ago and settled in the middle and lower reaches of China’s Yangtze River. The baiji has existed for around 25 million years, far longer than the famed giant panda, which has been around for five or six million years. The species is also described in the Erya, a Chinese dictionary dating back to 200 B.C., where it is named the “Goddess of the Yangtze”.

But how is this goddess faring in today’s Yangtze?

The Yangtze Freshwater Dolphin Expedition 2006, made up of experts from China, Japan, Switzerland, Germany, the UK and the US, conducted a six-week survey of the . The survey used the most advanced detection techniques to cover the 1,700 kilometres of the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze – from Yichang to Shanghai – but they failed to find even a single baiji. [Full text]

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