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    Chinese political advisers and animal rights advocates have urged the government to provide greater protection to Yangtze finless porpoises, after six were found dead this year.

    A porpoise was found dead in Poyang Lake, East China's Jiangxi Province, the fifth in March and sixth this year, animal protection organization Shuiye Baohuzhe (aquatic animal protector) said on WeChat Thursday.

    "The cause of death remains unclear, but we saw its injuries, so we think that was the cause of its death,” said the organization.

    The organization filed a petition on Tuesday urging the government to upgrade the porpoise to a first-class national protected animal. The petition had been signed by more than 1,400 petitioners as of press time.

    The Yangtze finless porpoises are on the brink of extinction. A study conducted by the China Academy of Sciences' Institute of Hydrobiology found that there were only 1,040 of them in 2012, less than 60 percent of the giant panda population.

    Xu Xudong, deputy head of the institute, and nine other political advisers recommended at the meeting of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference that the Yangtze finless porpoise should be upgraded to a first-class national protected animal, China News Service reported on March 3.

    The number of Yangtze finless porpoises dropped from 2,700 in 1990 to 1,800 in 2006, said the report.

    Increasing human activities, such as shipping and hydraulic engineering projects, are the main causes of the species' dwindling numbers, Sun Quanhui, a senior scientific adviser at the NGO, World Animal Protection, told the Global Times, adding that water pollution and overfishing are also to blame.

    Sun said that if the species is elevated to the level of a first-class national protected animal, the government will provide more protected water resources for them, build more conservation areas and tighten fishing activities.

    In March 2015, China launched a program to relocate the Yangtze finless porpoises, which placed eight porpoises from Poyang Lake in Jiangxi Province to two reserves in Hubei Province.

    "We plan to move them to waters free of human activities so that they can flourish,” said Zhao Yimin, an official at the Ministry of Agriculture.

    Moreover, many animal protection organizations and netizens urged the forestry department in March to re-categorize pangolin from a second- to a first-class State-protected animal, after reports that government officials from Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region served pangolins to guests for dinner. (China. com)

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