A Range Wide Survey of the Yangtze Finless Porpoise (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis)
Mei Zhigang, Hao Yujiang, Wang Kexiong, Wang Zhitao, Zheng Jinsong, Han Yi, Xiong Xiong, Chen Mao, Wang Ding
International Whaling Commission
A range-wide Yangtze finless porpoise (YFP) survey was conducted between November 10 and December 31, 2017.
Preliminary results estimate that the total population size is ~1000 individuals, with 445 in the main stem, 457 in Poyang Lake and 110 in Dongting Lake. The Critically Endangered status of this species remains unchanged.
Trend analysis indicates that the rapid decline in population numbers observed between 2006 to 2012 has now slowed, and population size may even be increasing in Dongting Lake.
YFP distribution within the main stem remains fragmented, as observed previously in the 2006 and 2012 surveys. The porpoise tend to concentrated in the better quality habitats of the river, therefore leading to more severe fragmentation.
Overall, habitat quality and habitat connectivity are very poor. Most habitats are degraded and continue to deteriorate, although small parts of the main stem and some lake areas are showing some degree of improvement. Overall, water quality appears acceptable for YFP survival.
Ship traffic remains one of the main threats to YFP and forces the porpoise to congregate around the shallow sandbars of the main stem.
Conservation actions including the in situ and ex situ management programmes, habitat protection and restoration and the management of shipping traffic require urgent action.