October 6, 2023
BEIJING – Protections have resulted in the rise of the Yangtze finless porpoise population
Known as “Smiling Angels”, the Yangtze finless porpoise is the unique flagship species of the Yangtze River Basin, and is widely believed to be an important natural indicator of the health of the Yangtze River ecosystem.
However, for decades, the numbers declined dramatically due to habitat loss, overfishing and climate change.
In recent years, that has begun to change. The turnaround would not have been possible without the efforts made by the Institute of Hydrobiology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. At the suggestion of the institute, the Tian’ezhou National Nature Reserve was established in Hubei province in 1992.
Since then, a number of reserves have been established in China.
As of 2022, the Yangtze finless porpoise population has increased to 1,249, up 23.42 percent from five years ago, all thanks to the improvement of the water quality of the Yangtze River basin.
“The improvement of the Yangtze River’s ecosystem has made us more optimistic. The ‘Smiling Angels’ will have a better future,” said Hao Yujiang, an assistant research fellow with the Institute of Hydrobiology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.