Baiji, also known as the “Goddess of the Yangtze”, a rare species of dolphin, has now been officially declared extinct.
Found exclusively in the Yangtze River in China, Baiji, also known as the “Goddess of the Yangtze,” a rare species of dolphin, is one of the notable victims of human intrusion and climate change. It is the rarest and most endangered cetacean species in the world. It was believed to bring fortune to the person who spotted it.
The species had been discussed since 2006, when it created quite the buzz for being on the brink of extinction. Baiji has now been officially declared extinct.
One of the most glaring factors that led to its extinction is overfishing. This not only made it difficult for Baijis to hunt prey, but also led to dolphins drowning after becoming entangled in fishing gear such as hook lines and fishing nets. Maritime traffic on the Yangtze River, which is one of China’s main economic trade arteries, also posed a great threat to the people of Baiji. Visually impaired dolphins used to collide with ships and their propellers and be seriously injured, resulting in their death.
READ ALSO :
Samuel Turvey, a conservationist who has spent more than two decades tracking down the now-extinct fish in China, in an interview with CNN said: “The baiji, or Yangtze river dolphin, was that unique creature and beautiful, there was nothing like it.. Its disappearance was more than just a tragedy of species, it was a huge loss of river diversity in terms of uniqueness and left huge holes in the ecosystem.
According to Samuel, the last legitimate sighting was in 2002 when a wild baiji was photographed. After that, all sightings were alleged but never proven, including the last claim that appeared in 2016.
The fate of the Yangtze River dolphin has researchers and conservationists worried about other rare species native to the Yangtze, China’s third-longest river. Worsening climate change and extreme weather conditions add another layer to the dire situation.
China is currently in the grip of the worst heat wave on record. Soaring temperatures and drought are having a devastating effect on rivers in China, including the Yangtze River. Many species, rare and unknown, could face silent extinction as we speak, experts warn.
(Edited by : Sudarsanan Mani)