Chinese river dolphin

The first dolphin species that is thought to have been driven to extinction by the activity of humans

Roland Seitre

Chinese river dolphin


The first dolphin species that is thought to have been driven to extinction by the activity of humans

Population <50

The Chinese river dolphin, also known as the Baiji, once inhabited the iconic waters of the Yangtze River in China, where it thrived for an astonishing 15 million years. However, the rapid pace of human development and industrialization in the 20th century led to a tragic decline in their population, culminating in their heartbreaking extinction.

For millennia, the Baiji coexisted harmoniously with the rich biodiversity of the Yangtze River, playing a vital role in its complex ecosystem. As apex predators, these graceful cetaceans helped regulate fish populations and maintain the health of their freshwater habitat.

Despite their long history in the Yangtze, the Baiji faced unprecedented challenges in the face of human encroachment. Pollution, habitat destruction, and overfishing wreaked havoc on their once-thriving population, pushing these magnificent creatures to the brink of extinction in a matter of decades.

Efforts to save the Baiji, once they were recognized as endangered, came too late to reverse their catastrophic decline. Despite valiant conservation efforts and international attention, the last confirmed sighting of a Baiji occurred in 2006, marking the tragic end of a species that had graced the Yangtze for millennia.

The extinction of the Baiji stands as a stark reminder of humanity’s impact on the natural world and the urgent need for conservation action. It serves as a poignant example of the irreversible consequences of unchecked environmental degradation and the importance of proactive conservation measures.

While the loss of the Baiji represents a profound tragedy, it also serves as a wake-up call for conservationists and policymakers worldwide. The plight of the Baiji underscores the critical importance of preserving and protecting our planet’s precious biodiversity before it’s too late.


Population est.
Official estimate
Possibly Extinct

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Group

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No