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. Nobody exactly knows if baiji was really extinct because the last sighting(s) were in 2004.[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.