The Yangtze River dolphin or baiji (Lipotes vexillifer): population status and conservation issues in the Yangtze River, China. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystem. 13: 51–64. Yangtze River (China).

Project Details

Date : 2003
Volunteer Name : X. ZHANG, D. WANG, R. LIU, Z. WEI, Y. HUA, Y. WANG, Z. CHEN and L. WANG

Project Description

Abstract: Baiji were sighted 17 times during three recent simultaneous multi-vessel surveys in the Yangtze River, China (November 4–10, 1997; December 4–9, 1998; October 31–November 5, 1999). There were 11 sightings in 1997 (consisting of 17 animals), five in 1998 (seven animals), and two in 1999 (four animals). It was concluded that 13 individuals could be considered as a minimum number of the baiji currently in the Yangtze River. 2. An annual rate of population decrease was roughly estimated as 10%. From the body sizes observed, the proportions of old, adult and immature individuals were approximately estimated at 57, 26, and 17% respectively 3 baiji showed a significant attraction to confluences and sand bars with large eddies. The present distribution range of the baiji is less than 1400 km in length in the Yangtze main river. Distances between the two nearest groups of baiji appear to be increasing 4 two typical sightings are described, in which surfacing and movements of baiji were recorded. Baiji were often found swimming together with finless porpoise. In the surveys they occurred in the same group in 63% of occurrences. Interactions between baiji and finless porpoise are described and discussed. 5. Human activities are the main threats to the baiji. Illegal electrical fishing accounted for 40% of known mortalities during the 1990s. Engineering explosions for maintaining navigation channels have become another main cause of baiji deaths. The last hope of saving the species may be to translocate the remaining baiji into a semi-captive reserve, known as the ‘Baiji Semi-natural Reserve’.