Monday, January 01, 2007

Baiji Dolphins: A Fellow Mammal Leaves the Planet

Dr. Robert L. Pitman, a member of the recent Chinese expedition, writes an emotional note for the New York Times in response to reporter’s question about the broader implications of the apparent extinction the Baiji Dolphin.
What we are seeing now is probably the first large animal that has ever gone extinct merely as an indirect consequence of human activity: a victim of market forces and our collective lifestyle. Nobody eats baiji and no tourists pay to see it — there were no reasons to take it deliberately, but there was no economic reason to save it, either. It is gone because too many people got too efficient at catching fish in the river and it was incidental bycatch. And it is perhaps a view of the future for much of the rest of the world and an indication that the predicted mass extinction is arriving on schedule.
Full story at The New York Times.

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