The Yangtze dolphins or baiji (white dolphins) are river dolphins that are found only in the Yangtze river of China.
Recent research shows that their populations have dropped drastically.A team of scientists spent about a month trying to find one of these mammals without success. According to Wang Ding, the vice director of the Hydrobiology Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, “If the situation cannot be improved, the white-flag dolphin may be extinct within 10 years.”
The main threats to this dolphin include pollution, fishing nets and dams.
River Dolphins are often called the watchdogs of a river. Their existence in a river implies good quality of water.
Considering that these dolphins are found in rivers that support a very large population of people is alarming.
“Clean water is not only vital for the survival of the river dolphin, but also for the quality of life for millions of the world’s poor,” said Jamie Pittock, Director of WWF’s Global Freshwater Programme. “Conserving biodiversity and alleviating poverty reduction are inextricably linked.”
The conservation base for the Yangtze Dolphin in Hubei Province has not been useful simply because none of these dolphins have been caught in recent years.
WWF-China is now following the “eco approach”, which is conserving the habitats and ecosystems rather than just the species.
Under this effort they are trying to connect the ox bow lakes to the river since wetland areas are the dolphins favored habitats and of course trying to mitigate pollution in many ways.
River dolphins are also found in the Ganges and Indus river basins. These dolphin populations too are dramatically low.