En­dan­gered Yangtze por­poises face shrink­ing habitat as con­struc­tion en­croaches upon na­ture re­serves

Global Times US Edition - - CHINA -

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.”

Long strug­gle

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

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