China’s first centre dedicated to the conservation of the Yangtze finless porpoise, which cost more that 5.4 million yuan (HK$6.8 million) to build, has been deserted without saving a single porpoise, state media reported today.
The building, built in Nanchang, the capital of Jiangxi province, is desolate and covered with thick dust. Some windows are broken. A pool used for breeding dolphins was turned into a fishing pool, Chengdu Business Daily reported.
The report said no experts visited the centre since construction was completed in 2005, and the centre failed to save any dolphins.
Construction started in 2003 with the approval of the Ministry of Agriculture. Funding came from the national budget and Jiangxi. A provincial official said Jiangxi allocates more than 1 million yuan a year for Yangtze finless dolphin conservation.
Nanchang is about 70km from the dolphins’ habitat, Poyang Lake. An expert told the Chengdu newspaper that dolphins cannot be transported for a long distance, as doing so would harm the mammal. And with the environmental changes, the centre is not suit for conserving dolphins.
An official at Jiangxi Fishery said the location of the centre was approved by many experts before the construction.
A local official who spoke to the newspaper denied the centre has been deserted, saying the centre had not yet been put into operation.
The WWF lists the Yangtze finless porpoise as critically endangered. Its website says only 1,000-1,800 are alive, and Poyang Lake, with 300-400 porpoises, is their largest habitat. They are dying at a rate of 5 to 10 per cent per year, according to the newspaper.
The Yangtze finless porpoise’s close relative, the Baiji dolphin, was declared “functionally extinct” in 2006.