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NGO set up to protect endangered finless porpoise

(Xinhua)

08:57, January 10, 2012

CHANGSHA, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- A new non-government organization has been set up in the central city of Yueyang to protect the Yangtze finless porpoise, an endangered river dolphin that is even rarer than giant pandas.

The Yangtze Finless Porpoise Conservation Society was founded on Sunday in the city of Yueyang in Hunan province. Members of the society include scientists, journalists, educators as well as fishermen, said Xu Yaping, head of the organization, on Monday.

Wang Ding, vice director of the hydrobiology institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences(CAS), warned that the finless porpoise, with a history of over 25 million years, may become extinct in just a decade if no action is taken to protect them.

The new society will organize patrols, persuade fishermen not to catch the finless porpoise, give lectures about the conservation of the rare mammal as well as rescue injured porpoises, said Xu.

The organization will later set up a new work station for volunteers and an observation station, Xu said.

The Yangtze finless porpoise lives exclusively in the Yangtze River and its connecting Poyang and Dongting Lakes.

According to data from the CAS, its population stood at around 2,700 in 1991. By 2006, the number had dropped to 1,200-1,800, less than the total number of wild giant pandas. At present, the number of Yangtze finless porpoises is around 1,000.

Worsening pollution, illegal fishing, busy water transport and the construction of big hydro projects are blamed for the dying out of the animals.

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