Chinese river dolphin

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

Roland Seitre

Populations of Chinese river dolphins have been living in the majestic Yangtze River of China for 15 million years, but it took humans less than five decades to wipe them off the face of the earth.

Also called Baiji, their numbers crashed dramatically in the early 20th century and eventually disappeared entirely. They were announced extinct in 2007 after a search expedition, and there have been no confirmed baiji sightings since before 2006.

The extinction of the Baiji was an international disgrace. An earlier response to the species’ decline might have kept some individuals alive today. But now, having lost the battle to save this freshwater dolphin, the next test is to avoid the population of finless porpoises in the Yangtze River, which also experience the same fate.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
China
<50
Official estimate
CR
2017
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