Have you ever seen Baiji, a river dolphin? If yes, you are so lucky; If not please have a look and let’s meet the smiling Baiji

Most people believe that dolphins live in the sea but not the rivers. But there are some special rivers around the world that are home to some dolphins;

It is estimated that there were 5,000 Baiji when they were described in the ancient dictionary Erya circa 3rd century BC. A traditional Chinese story describes the Baiji as the reincarnation of a princess who had been drowned by her family after refusing to marry a man she did not love. Regarded as a symbol of peace and prosperity, the dolphin was nicknamed the “Goddess of the Yangtze.”

But unfortunately, as the pollution keeps destroying all peace and prosperity around the world, it also killed the” Goddess of the Yangtze”.The dissapperance of Baiji Chinese River Dolphin is the first extinction of a major mammal since the demise of the Caribbean Monk Seal and the Japanese Sea Lion in the 1950s.

In Wuhan, 13 December 2006 – The Baiji Yangtze Dolphin is with all probability extinct. In the city of Wuhan in central China, a search expedition, under the direction of the Institute for Hydrobiology Wuhan and the Swiss-based baiji.org Foundation, drew to a finish without any results.

Lead was listed in 1976 as an air pollutant, concentrations of lead in the air have caused many problems. Then Battery makers, lead smelters, refiners all have lobbied the administration to do away with the Clean Air Act limits. But Baiji have gone the way of the dodo… ( Dodo’s were extinct in 1750s)

Human exceeds the limits, species decrease
Pollution increase, species decrease

Now Here’s a look at the history of Baiji Chinese River Dolphins

Timeline
circa 3rd century BC: population estimated at 5,000 animals
1950s: population was estimated at 6,000 animals
1958-1962: The Great Leap Forward denounces the animal’s traditional venerated status
1970: The Gezhouba Project begins
1979: The People’s Republic of China declares the Chinese River Dolphin endangered
1983: National law declares hunting the Chinese River Dolphin illegal
1984: The plight of the Baiji draws headlines in China[15]
1986: Population estimated to be 300
1989: Gezhouba Dam complete
1990: Population estimated to be 200
1994: Construction of the Three Gorges Dam begins
1996: IUCN lists the species as critically endangered
1997: Population estimated to be less than 50 (23 found in survey); a dead baiji was found with 103 separate open wounds[12]
1998: 7 found in survey
2003: Three Gorges Dam begins filling reservoir
2004: Last known sighting
2006: None found in survey, declared “extinct”
2007: Results of survey published in the journal Biology Letters[16]

Causes of decline
The World Conservation Union (IUCN) has noted the following as 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. During the Great Leap Forward, when traditional veneration of the Baiji was denounced, it was hunted for its flesh and skin, and quickly became scarce.[2]

As China developed economically, pressure on the river dolphin grew significantly. Industrial and residential waste flowed into the Yangtze. The riverbed was dredged and reinforced with concrete in many locations. Ship traffic multiplied, boats grew in size, and fishermen employed wider and more lethal nets. Noise pollution caused the nearly blind animal to collide with propellers. Stocks of the dolphin’s prey declined drastically in recent decades as well, with some fish populations declining to one thousandth of their pre-industrial levels.[14]

In the 1970s and 1980s, an estimated half of Baiji deaths were attributed to entanglement in fishing gear. By the early 2000s, electric fishing was considered “the most important and immediate direct threat to the Baiji’s survival.”[2] Though outlawed, this fishing technique is widely practiced throughout China. The building of the Three Gorges Dam further reduced the dolphin’s habitat and facilitated an increase in ship traffic.

Now for the people who love to watch films, especially Hayao Miyazake & animation, please do watch “Spirited Away” ( if you have already watched , may be once more) and meet “Haku” with all this information, then you’ll know that there is a reality behind this fiction, do you know remember Haku’s real name? and why Haku forget his real name, Nigihayami Kohakunushi (white river dragon boy)…

a spirit dissappears in Kohaku, a goddess dissappears in Yangtze….

It’s been 4 years Baijis declared “extinct” 🙁

MB  14 Jan 2010