Finless Porpoise Born in He-wang-miao Reserve


The He-wang-miao Reserve confirmed the birth of a Yangtze finless porpoise on August 23rd, 2016.   


The He-wang-miao Reserve confirmed the birth of a Yangtze finless porpoise on August 23rd, 2016.  Judging from its body size and locomotion details, experts from Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IHB) announced that the baby porpoise was born in early August and appeared to be in good health. 

The establishment of the He-wang-miao Reserve which is located at the junction of Hubei and Hunan Provinces was approved by Hubei and Hunan Provincial Governments respectively in 2015. In late March 2015, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Environmental Protection, Chinese Academy of Sciences and three provincial governments of Jiangxi, Hunan and Hubei launched the “The Yangtze Finless Porpoise Ex Situ Conservation Project” in the Reserve. The project was technically supported by IHB.  

Appointed by the Ministry of Agriculture, IHB has relocated eight porpoises including four males and four females from the Poyang Lake and the Tian’e-Zhou oxbow to the Reserve in March and December 2015. The two female porpoises from the Poyang Lake were estimated to be three years old and 12 years old respectively, and the other two from the Tian’e-Zhou oxbow were estimated to be four years old and six years old. The porpoise usually reaches sexual maturity at about five years old and its gestation lasts more than 12 months, with the main breeding season during May to September. Thus, the experts believed that the mother porpoise of the new-born was the eldest female from the Poyang Lake.  

After the relocation of the porpoises, IHB researchers assisted the He-wang-miao Reserve in developing monitoring plans and improving management facilities. They participated in behavioural monitoring and conducted surveys on fish resources and habitat selection of the porpoise. The Jianli and Huarong County governments have made great effort to create a friendly environment for the porpoise by taking measures against illegal fishing, fish farming in the net cage, marshland grazing and agricultural sewage discharging. The monitoring outcome from IHB shows that the reserve has rich fish resources and all the porpoises are in good health condition. 

The porpoise “sonar system” will not be fully developed until they reach about three months old, and during this period the baby porpoise relies on maternal feeding. From three months to six months old, the baby porpoise starts to show predatory behaviour, yet it mainly feeds on mother’s milk and needs to stay with its mother for most of the time. This is the most vulnerable period for the baby porpoise. Therefore, IHB has assisted the reserve in developing a special monitoring plan for the newborn porpoise to ensure its healthy growth.