New Delhi: After being declared functionally extinct a decade ago, Chinese conservationists have spotted a ray of hope after catching a rare glimpse of the freshwater dolphin.
The mammal, also known as Baiji or the white dolphin, was hunted for six weeks by scientists and environmentalists along the waterway in 2006, but to no avail.
But a team of amateur conservationists now claims it spotted the so-called “goddess of the Yangtze” last week on a stretch of Asia’s longest river near the city of Wuhu in Anhui province, The Guardian reported.
Song Qi, the leader of that expedition told Sixth Tone, a government-backed news website, “No other creature could jump out of the Yangtze like that. All the eyewitnesses – which include fishermen – felt certain that it was a baiji.”
Song told the Guardian that the unconfirmed sighting occurred during a seven-day search mission down the Yangtze that began in the city of Anqing on September 30.
In its report, The Guardian also mentioned that, in the 1950s, the Yangtze is thought to have been home to thousands of such animals. But by the end of the 1980s that number had fallen to perhaps 200 thanks to a lethal cocktail of dam-building, over-fishing, pollution and boat traffic. By the turn of the century just 13 remained, according to one survey.