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Baiji: Lipotidae - Conservation Status

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Hope of saving the baijis is dim. Although it was declared a National Treasure of China and has been protected from hunting since 1975, the population continues to decline. Human use of the Yangtze River may be too intense for the baiji to survive.

There have been many ideas about how to help this dolphin survive, including capturing animals for breeding, developing "semi-natural reserves," and conducting population surveys. One idea even involved cloning the dolphin to help its population grow. In order to clone one of these dolphins at least three would need to be caught, which is a next to impossible task considering that fewer than ten are seen each year. Many successful breeding techniques have been developed for other dolphin species, including the bottlenosed dolphin. However, the baiji has not had the same luck as the bottlenosed, and every attempt to breed a baiji in captivity has failed. Now the idea of starting a breeding program seems even more unlikely because the only male who had ever been in captivity died in 2002 after living alone in a tank for twenty-three years. Sadly, despite what is being done to protect the baiji, it seems that they are doomed to extinction.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Books:

Carwadine, Mark, and Martin Camm. Smithsonian Handbooks: Whales Dolphins and Porpoises. New York: DK Publishing, 2002.

Ellis, Richard. Dolphins and Porpoises. New York: Knopf, 1989.

Gowell, Elizabeth T. Whales and Dolphins: What They Have in Common. New York: Franklin Watts, 2000.

Mead, James G., and Joy P. Gold. Whales and Dolphins in Question: The Smithsonian Answer Book. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2002.

Nowak, Ronald. M. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995.

Smith, Alison M., and Brian D. Smith. "Review Status and Threats to River Dolphins and Recommendations for Their Conservation." In Environmental Reviews. Vol. 6, edited by T. C. Hutchinson. Ottawa, Canada: NRC Research Press, 1998.

Web sites:

American Cetacean Society. http://www.acsonline.org (accessed on July 8, 2004).

Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. http://www.wdcs.org (accessed on July 8, 2004).

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