Has the world’s oldest species gone effectively extinct? A team had gone on an expedition in search for a rare Yangtze River dolphin. But, disappointingly, it ended Wednesday without a single of the species falling in sight. So, what should be the conclusion be?
Baiji — the shy and nearly blind white dolphin swam the rivers some 20 million years ago! It is in the last half-century it disappeared for the first time. It is since the hunting killed off the Caribbean monk seal, a large aquatic mammal has been driven to extinction.
The researchers believe that even though a few baiji may still exist in their in eastern China’s native Yangtze habitat, their existing numbers are not sufficient for breeding and warding off extinction.
August Pfluger, the Swiss co-leader of the joint Chinese-foreign expedition said,
We have to accept the fact, that the Baiji is functionally extinct. We lost the race. It is a tragedy, a loss not only for China, but for the entire world. We are all incredibly sad.