In Celebration of 30th Anniversary of Ex-situ Conservation of Yangtze Finless Porpoises at Tian-e-Zhou National Nature Reserve
IHB’s deputy director HU Wei and HU Linhuan, a counselor from Hubei Forestry Bureau, unveil the 30th anniversary monument of the Tian-e-Zhou National Nature Reserve, on July 8. (Image by IHB)
The conservation of the Yangtze finless porpoises outside its natural habitat requires decades of efforts. As a supporting unit, Institute of Hydrobiology (IHB) of Chinese Academy of Sciences has been engaged in the feasibility study, construction and running of the Tian-e-Zhou National Nature Reserve since 1986.
In 1990, IHB researchers initiated the first attempts of ex-situ conservation of the Yangtze finless porpoises in the Tian-e-Zhou Oxbow, located in Shishou, Hubei province, where five porpoises were introduced from the mainstream of the Yangtze.
With 30 years unremitting efforts, the number of porpoises living in the oxbow now counts almost 80, indicating that the reserve has become an important safeguard for the conservation of the porpoises, and that researchers have found an effective way to conserve the small endangered cetaceans in the world.
"The 30 years ex-situ conservation of the Yangtze Finless porpoise in Tian-e-Zhou Oxbow is a historical witness of China's unremitting efforts in the conservation of the Yangtze River porpoise,” WANG Ding, an IHB professor specializing in conservation biology of aquatic animals, said at the 30th anniversary celebration held in Shishou on July 8, adding that the successful ex-situ conservation of the Yangtze Finless porpoise is "a milestone" for the conservation of the Yangtze Finless porpoise and other aquatic life in the Yangtze River.
Over the past years, IHB has been collaborating with the reserve in the observations on ecology and behavior of the porpoise, and in the bioacoustic studies, population genetic structure, and reproductive physiology of the porpoise as well.
The construction of the Reserve and the achievement made in the ex-situ conservation of the Yangtze finless porpoise have been widely acknowledged by both domestic and foreign experts.
"This represents the world’s first attempt at ex-situ conservation efforts for a cetacean species,” said Wang.
The celebration was consisted of a series of events including the unveiling of the 30th anniversary monument joined by IHB’s deputy director HU Wei and HU Linhuan, a counselor from Hubei Forestry Bureau; and a forum for participants to discuss issues on the construction of a management system for nature reserves, conservation strategy for the Yangtze Finless porpoise, conservation of natural habitats and fish resources in the Yangtze, and the harmonious development of local economy and environment.
The events also included a field trip to the net cage purpose-built within the reserve, where a porpoise family – a newly born baby porpoise and her mother and farther, was living. In July, Beibei, a 4-year-old female mammal reared in the net cage, was released into the reserve.
"Ex-situ conservation is vital in saving the endangered Yangtze finless porpoise. We hope in the decades to come, with concerted efforts, the Tian-e-Zhou Reserve will have more fruitful achievements,” Hu said, when expressing the wishes to the reserve on behalf of the institute.
A forum is held during the celebration to discuss on the conservation strategy for the Yangtze Finless porpoise. (Image by IHB)
IHB Prof. WANG Ding gives a keynote speech on the conservation of the Yangtze Finless porpoise. (Image by IHB)
In July, Beibei, a 4-year-old female mammal reared in the net cage, was released into the reserve. (Image by IHB)
A newly born baby porpoise and her mother live in the the net cage purpose-built within the reserve. (Image by IHB)