China races to save last Yangtze River mammal

According to official data, China had 1,012 Yangtze porpoises in the last 2017 census, down from 2,500 in 1991, and the numbers are falling about 10 percent a year.

To try and counteract this situation the government implemented a set of measures, including: replacing rows of fish farms by lotus ponds with migratory birds, restricting fishing and ships movements to a further away area, leaving the controlled zone to be patrolled every day. 

Yangtze finless porpoise. /VCG Photo

Yangtze finless porpoise. /VCG Photo

Many porpoises die due to collisions with ships because noise pollution affects their echolocation, and degraded habitats and contaminated water expose them to infectious diseases.

President Xi Jinping's call for sustainable growth in the Yangtze "economic belt" has made people hope that the last surviving mammals of this river can become a symbol of China's environmental revival.

Yangtze finless porpoise. /VCG Photo

Yangtze finless porpoise. /VCG Photo

Nanjing is considered a model protection zone. Since its opening in 2014, it has invested approximately 30 million yuan in monitoring equipment and 20 full-time employees.

Authorities last month imposed a 10-year fishing ban from 2021 in Poyang, China's largest freshwater lake and another home to finless porpoises. According to Xinhua News Agency, the ban will affect 100,000 fishermen. 

The 40-mile (64-km) area of the Yangtze River at Anqing, Anhui Province has been declared a porpoise safe haven and off-limits for fishing.

(All images via VCG)

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Source(s): Reuters