Population of Yangtze finless porpoise hits 1,000: CPPCC member

The reduction in the number of Yangtze finless porpoises has been slowing down and its population is now at about 1,000, said a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Beijing on Sunday.

The Yangtze finless porpoise is a highly-endangered species now under first-class state protection in China. Determined to save them from extinction, China has been racing to maintain the porpoise population.

In response to whether the decline in the number of Yangtze finless porpoises has been curbed thanks to the improved environment of the Yangtze River, CPPCC National Committee member Pan Biling, who is also the deputy director general of the Ecology and Environment Department of central China's Hunan Province, released the data during a group interview.

A Yangtze finless porpoise swims in the Yangtze River, China. /VCG Photo

A Yangtze finless porpoise swims in the Yangtze River, China. /VCG Photo

"Now the number of Yangtze finless porpoises is around 1,000, making it a species rarer than the giant panda. So the Yangtze finless porpoise earned the nickname 'the panda in the water.' Since the species is very sensitive to water quality and noise, the number of Yangtze finless porpoises once plunged to a mere 72 in the Dongting Lake, a lake that flows to the Yangtze River. Now the number has returned to 110," said Pan.

Pan attributed the rebound to the improved environment.

"During his visit to the Hunan section of the Yangtze River last year, General Secretary Xi Jinping saw a spectacular view of Yangtze finless porpoises leaping out of the water. This reflected the fact that the water quality of the Yangtze River has been markedly improved," said Pan.

During his visit, Xi called for all-out efforts to protect the Yangtze River, the longest in China, and demanded no large-scale development.

A Yangtze finless porpoise. /VCG Photo

A Yangtze finless porpoise. /VCG Photo

Pan said that the protection of the Yangtze River is not only a tough fight, but also a protracted war, and they will continue their steps down the path.

"I firmly believe that as long as we adhere to the principle of green development and ecology priority, the situation will continue to improve. On the one hand, we need to strongly push forward the critical battle of protecting and rehabilitating the Yangtze River. On the other, we need to pursue green development and make industries more eco-friendly," said Pan.

(Cover image: A Yangtze finless porpoise. /VCG Photo)

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