Chinese river dolphin

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Lipotes vexillifer
Temporal range: Extinct c.2007
An illustration of the Baiji
Size comparison against an average human
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Mammalia
Subclass: Eutheria
Order: Cetacea
Suborder: Odontoceti
Superfamily: Platanistoidea
Family: Lipotidae
Genus: Lipotes
Species: Lipotes vexillifer
Natural range of the baiji

The Chinese river dolphin (Lipotes vexillifer) or baiji was a river dolphin. It was found only in the Yangtze River in China. The baiji was declared extinct in 2007 by the Chinese Academy of Science.[source?]

Description[change | change source]

The baiji was a graceful animal, with a long, narrow and slightly upturned beak and a flexible neck. As opposed to some other freshwater dolphins, like the Indus River dolphin, its eyes were functional, although greatly reduced. Its coloration was bluish-gray to gray above and white to ashy-white below. It weighed 135 - 230 kg (300 - 510 lb) and measured as much as 2.5 m (8.2') in length.

Reasons for extinction[change | change source]

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) noted these threats to the species:

  • a period of hunting by humans during the Great Leap Forward,
  • entanglement in fishing gear,
  • the illegal practice of electric fishing,
  • collisions with boats and ships, habitat loss, and
  • pollution.

Further studies have noted the environmental impact of building the Three Gorges Dam on the living space of the baiji.[1]

It was the first dolphin species that humans have made extinct.

References[change | change source]

  1. Walters, Mark Jerome (November 1993). "Who speak for the baiji?". Animals (EBSCO) 126 (6): 6–6.