Thursday, December 14, 2006

Extinction of the Baiji

In the news today, I read that the baiji, a white dolphin native to the Yangtze River in China, has officially been declared extinct. Its habitat was destroyed by heavy traffic on the river.

The baiji is one of the creatures the late Douglas Adams wrote about in his fantastic book Last Chance to See (co-authored with Mark Carwardine. Harmony Books, 1991, ISBN: 0517582155). Last Chance to See was funny, as one would expect from Douglas Adams, but it was also very sad. He went on an expedition all over the world to see and write about several seriously endangered species. As the title implies, he expected that these animals would be gone from the world soon, and that this was truly the last chance to see them alive. In the case of the baiji, he turned out to be right.

I hope the same fate does not befall the other animals he wrote about. It is sad enough that the world has lost the baiji. It would be sadder still if the kakapo or the komodo dragon followed.

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