Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Death of a goddess

Below is an except from an article in The Independant, regarding the Chinese White Fin Dolphin becoming extinct. The dolphin was regarded as a goddess. If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to the full article.

After surviving 20 million years, China's goddess of the river is driven to extinction
By Clifford Coonan in Beijing

Published: 18 December 2006

For 20 million years, the white-fin dolphin, or baiji, swam China's longest river, the Yangtze. But a few years of breakneck development, overfishing and a massive increase in shipping have reduced sightings of this shy, graceful creature to zero.

A recent expedition failed to spot a single Lipotes vexillifer, and now conservationists fear the almost-blind, long-beaked animal is gone for good, the first big aquatic mammal to become extinct due to human activity.

"We have to accept the fact that the baiji is extinct. It is a tragedy, a loss not only for China, but for the entire world," said the joint leader of the expedition, August Pfluger, an economist who runs the Swiss-based, an environmental group dedicated to saving the dolphins.
Scientists say the search for the dolphin will continue, even though the 30-strong team which has plied the length of the Yangtze for the past six weeks failed to sight the cetacean.

Measuring up to 8ft 2in (2.5 metres) in length, the baiji is a relative of other freshwater dolphins in the Mekong, Indus, Ganges and Amazon rivers.

It used to be worshipped as a goddess by the Chinese. According to legend, the baiji is the reincarnation of a princess who refused to marry a man she did not love and was drowned by her father for shaming the family.

When it was listed as one of the most endangered species in the world in 1986, there were still 400 white-fin dolphins alive, but the population dropped alarmingly to fewer than 150 over the past decade. A survey in 1997 listed just 13 sightings, with the last confirmed sighting in 2004.

The final baiji in captivity, Qi Qi, died in 2002.

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