China’s rapid development in recent decades appears to have taken its toll on the Chinese sturgeon, an endangered species of fish mainly found in the Yangtze river that is said to be on the brink of extinction, according to local media.
The fish, which is believed to have existed for over 140 million years, was historically found in China, Japan and the Korean peninsula, but has since disappeared from most regions. There are estimated to be only around 100 members of the species remaining in the wild and, according to a Xinhua News report, no wild sturgeon naturally reproduced in the Yangtze last year. This is the first time that this has happened since researchers began recording data 32 years ago.
Chinese researchers have attributed this decline in sturgeon population to increased pollution of the Yangtze and the construction of multiple dams, writes BBC News.
A researcher told Xinhua that, as recently as the 1980s, there were several thousand sturgeon to be found in the river. He went on to add that, “Without natural reproduction, the fish population cannot replenish itself. If there are no further steps taken to strengthen conservation, the wild sturgeon faces the danger of extinction.”
The Chinese sturgeon, considered a ‘national treasure’, remains strictly protected by the government, which has tried numerous conservation schemes in order to stimulate population growth in the species. Earlier this year, volunteers and residents of Yinchang in Hebei province helped release 2000 artificially-bred sturgeon into the Yangtze. Not only were the fish not scooped up by wandering hands, they went on to successfully complete a migration route of 1,600 kilometers to the ocean.
By Robert Ridley