Endangered Yangtze porpoises face shrinking habitat as construction encroaches upon nature reserves
Zhu Ming (pseudonym) stood by the Shamozhou ferry in Anqing, East China’s Anhui Province, looking at the ferry berth demolished d on November 15 because cause it was inside a nature reserve f for th the Yangtze finless porpoise.
The Yangtze finless porpoise is dubbed the “panda in the water.” It is a critically endangered animal, as well as an indicator species of the Yangtze River’s eco-system, and has been included in the red list of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Zhu, who is in charge of a transport company, recalled the ferry station had been there long before the nature reserve. Zhu has been doing business with the ferry for almost 10 years.
“I’ve seen inspections over dust and muck, but this is the first time we’ve been inspected over the finless porpoise,” said Zhu.
Endangered and ignored
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, a total of 1,012 finless porpoises are living in the Yangtze River, even less than the number of pandas.
Li Junsheng, deputy director of the Research Center for Eco-Environmental Science at the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, told the Global Times that human activities activi are the major cause cau of the sharp decrease de of the finless porpoise. po “Their habitat has been replaced by ferries, and more ships sh sailing on the river rive disturb them. Additionally, Addi pollution is another anothe cause.” The agricultural ag ministry also confirmed confir that human activities ti iti have h b been the major threat to the living environment of the finless porpoise. “Illegal sand mining segments their habitat and disturbs communication within the species, which causes the frequent death of finless porpoises, and more than 10 finless porpoises were found dead in the first half of this year.”
The city-level natural reserve for finless porpoise was established in 2007 in Anqing. The Yangtze River Anqing section is the most important habitat for the finless porpoise, according to the ministry.
The 806 square kilometer nature reserve covers the entire Yangtze River’s Anqing section.
However, a notice from the Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environment on November 13 revealed that the nature reserve has shrank, due to three unauthorized adjustments from November 2015 to June 2017 to make way for economic development. Illegal projects constructed in the nature reserve are gnawing away at the habitat of the finless porpoise.
The nature reserve has diminished
Complement each other
After the announcement of the zone, the city government of Anqing started to reconsider the problems in 2007.
Jiang Kuitang, director of Anqing Environmental Protection Bureau, said that not only had the entire river section in Anqing been included, but also the part of the river in its two neighbor cities, without considering future economic development, reported The Beijing News.
Jiang said this is because there was no plan, no approval, and no accreditation when the reserve was established in 2007.
He said this approach is obviously not rigorous, not scientific and not standardized, according to The Beijing News.
In one of the adjustments, the Wanhekou and Shamozhou areas were degraded from buffer zone to