Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Baiji Dolphins: Functionally Extinct

** UPDATED ** (More news links added below, including BBC Video)

There is ever increasing world coverage this week of the failure of the Baiji Dolphin expedition to find any of the animals in the Yangtze River. In a Reuters interview this week, August Pfluger, chief executive of the Foundation, said that the Baiji Dolphin is "functionally extinct". The interview is being picked up by the other news organisations very quickly.
"If there are maybe one or two or three left in the river, we don't believe that they have any chance to survive. We were obviously too late. For me, it's a tragedy in terms of conservation. We lost the race."
Chinese view the baiji as the reincarnation of a princess who refused to marry a man she did not love and was drowned by her father for shaming the family.

"The baiji was considered a goddess of the Yangtze River. This goddess obviously is not here anymore," said Pfluger. "I think in the last few years the government has put more attention on the issue, but we have all been too late."
Full story at Reuters AlertNet and across the web - Washington Post - CBS News - BBC News - BBC Video - The Guardian - LA Times - Slashdot discussion - Daily Kos discussion

The thoughts of August Pfluger are the latest post on the Last Chance To Save blog.
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 ressources.

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.
NOTE: The definition of "functionally extinct" as described on the Wikipedia "Extinction" page...
A species may become functionally extinct when only a handful of individuals survive, which are unable to reproduce due to poor health, age, sparse distribution over a large range, a lack of individuals of both sexes (in sexually reproducing species), or other reasons.


Kjartan said...

This is terrible. Such a beautiful creature.

Just found this page through wikipedia. Great effort keeping track of those species Last Chance To See covered. thanks.

Anonymous said...

This is a great shame about the Baiji. The next to go will be the Indus and Ganges blind river dolphins. There are only a handful of them left now. And some day, I fear, the Boto dolphin in the Amazon will become extinct as well. Then, man will have managed to snuff out all the fresh water dolphins on the planet.

Gareth said...

Thank you for your kind thoughts, and many MANY thanks for your generous donation to our Save The Rhino fundraiser.

A few weeks ago I received an email from an official at Save The Rhino who has thanked us for our donations to date. So, on behalf Save The Rhino I thank you again Kjarten.

Anonymous said...

Such a shame. Now it's the Baiji. Next it will be the Indus and Ganges blind river dolphins and eventually, I fear, the Boto dolphins in the Amazon. Then, man will have successfully snuffed out all the rivers dolphins on the planet. We have a lot to answer for.

Anonymous said...

imagine how desperately lonely you would be if you were the last one alive of your species. the last one. swimmin around. everyone else is dead. so sad. makes me cry. poor old dolphi. humans suck

Anonymous said...

It's so sad.Now there aren't any more.They've been wiped of the face of the earth.