Following 6 weeks of scouring a 3,400-kilometer segment of the Chinese Yangtze River, an expedition of 30 international researchers led by Swiss naturalist August Pfluger has declared that the Baiji, a rare white freshwater dolphin is effectively extinct.
Although there were several thousands of these dolphins fifty years ago, a 2004 report from a conservation workshop concluded that the number of Baiji in the river had declined rapidly since the 1970s.
Whereas fewer than 400 of the dolphins were reported in the mid-80s, a follow-up survey in 1997 recorded only 13.
Illegal overfishing and pollution from busy ship traffic are also considered culprits, but the construction of large dams is credited as the greatest contributor to the Baiji dolphin extinction and an ongoing threat to other marine life in the Yangtze river basin.
Scientists believe this to be the first instance of a cetacean species being pushed to extinction due entirely to human action. Wonder how many more species we’ll extinguish before wising up…