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12 finless porpoises found dead in Dongting Lake

25 April 2012
In recent weeks, 12 finless porpoises have been found dead in Dongting Lake, a flood basin of the Yangtze River in Hunan province, Xiaoxiang Morning Post reported.

Autopsies showed that none of the endangered mammals had food residue in their digestive system. Xie Yongjun, a veterinarian who conducted three dissections, believed the mammals could have died from infectious diseases, poisoning or starvation.

Wei Baoyu, programme director of the World Wide Fund for Nature in Changsha said that the dying-out of finless porpoises could lead to a biological disaster for the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze, as the mammal is at the top of the river’s food chain.

Finless porpoises are threatened by food shortages, water pollution and damage to the river bed, Mr Wei added. They are also prone to injury from boat propellers.

Scientists estimated there were 1,200-1,400 finless porpoises in the Yangtze in 2006, only half of the number in 1991.

Hunan province has yet to designate a nature reserve area for the finless porpoise in Dongting Lake, following other reserves established in Hubei, Jiangxi, Anhui and Jiangsu provinces along the Yangtze.

     
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