More Protection Measures Urged for Freshwater Dolphins

The 2012 Yangtze Freshwater Dolphin Expedition went from November 11-December 24, 2012. It was dedicated to finding out the current situation of the State protected species. [Photo: WWF China/Zhang Xinqiao] 

CRI--An expedition report released on Thursday in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, shows there's a significant decline in the population of freshwater dolphins, compared with the results of 2006 research, leaving about only 1,000 of the species in the Yangtze River. 

The report pointed out that the annual decreasing rate of the dolphins was up to 13.73 percent, which was more than twice the rate before 2006. 

As a Class 2 Species under State Protection, the freshwater dolphin population is much smaller than the Giant Panda. 

Professor Wang Ding, head of the research expedition and researcher at Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Hydrobiology (IHB), said the main reasons for the sharp decrease are a food shortage and increased maritime traffic.  

Wang believes both on-site and off-site conservation are needed to prevent the species from extinction. 

The report suggested banning fishing in some areas and helping local fishermen find new vocations in the freshwater dolphin conservation zones. 

The report also suggested building a national freshwater dolphin conservation zone in the Poyang Lake, the largest fresh-water lake in China, upgrading the Anqing and Zhenjiang freshwater dolphin conservation zones, as well as avoiding opening up a shipping lane in the conservation zones. 

In order to research the current situation of freshwater dolphins, IHB, the World Wide Fund For Nature, and Wuhan Yangtze Cetacean Conservation Fund, conducted a 44-day expedition last November and December.