In December 2007, the Baji dolphin of the Yangtze river was declared extinct. A study has now revealed that the Yangtze finless porpoise might face the same destiny if no protective measures are taken, National Geographic News reports.

A new study has shown that Yangtze river porpoises are dying in part due to exposure to insecticides and mercury. The Yangtze River in China is home to the planet’s last river-dwelling finless porpoises. As a part of the study, researchers also investigated the organs of porpoises living in China’s Dongting Hu Lake (which is connected to the Yangtze River) and found high concentrations of PCBs and other pollutants.

According to study co-author Wang Ding of China’s Institute of Hydrobiology, the Yangtze finless porpoise population has decreased sharply each year during recent decades. He states that pollution, dam construction, fishing and transportation all contribute to the problem.

WWF China has helped maintain a natural preserve for the Yangtze porpoise along an oxbow of the Yangtze River and the Institute of Hydrobiology is running a captive breeding program where a third calf is expected to be born in the summer of 2008. These measures are however far from enough we want to keep the Yangtze river porpoises from going extinct.

Urgent measures need to be undertaken to save this porpoise. Pollution control is one of the most important, but this will take time and huge efforts by the government and companies,” says Li Lifeng, director of WWF China’s freshwater program.

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