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Witness to Extinction: How We Failed to Save the Yangtze River Dolphin
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Witness to Extinction: How We Failed to Save the Yangtze River Dolphin

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  81 ratings  ·  9 reviews
The tragic recognition of the extinction of the Yangtze River Dolphin or baiji in 2007 became a major news story and sent shockwaves around the world. It made a romantic story, for the baiji was a unique and beautiful creature that features in many Chinese legends and folk tales. The Goddess of the Yangtze, as it was known, was also the lone representative of an entire and ...more
Hardcover, 234 pages
Published December 1st 2008 by Oxford University Press, USA
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Jul 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was a really difficult one to rate not because of its writing which was emminently readable, informative and clear but because of the content. I think I felt here rather like I did when I saw ' Les Miserables ' on stage and couldn't bring myself to applaud the actors who played the Thenardiers because they, though giving brilliant performances, had been responsible for such horror. Turvey comes across as an incredibly genuine and committed naturalists but here he has the unenviable responsi ...more
Oct 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
A beautifully written and sad book. It details the extinction of the Baiji though a thousand cuts: economic progress, bureaucracy and most of all, apathy. But while the story is sad the book doesn't wallow, and is engaging and interesting to read.
Sarah Jesness
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In 2006, researchers declared the Yangtze River dolphin (also known as the baiji) functionally extinct, the first cetacean species driven to extinction by human activity. The story blew up in the media, people were outraged. They asked, how could this happen? But if you were around to see those stories, it was probably the first time you had ever heard of the species. The media and conservation groups decrying the extinction had done little to prevent it, not even bothering to spread awareness.

Dec 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
I first learned of the existence of the Yangtze river dolphin from a book on cetaceans I checked out of the library when I was seven. I don't remember the title or author, but I do remember it had beautiful illustrations and was the source of my earliest knowledge of river dolphins. The book's entry on the Yangtze dolphin, or baiji, particularly caught my interest because it listed them as being critically endangered, with fewer than 300 individuals left. I remember thinking, "Someday, I want to ...more
Apr 08, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: dolphin lovers, conservation lovers, people interested in Chinese culture and interactions
This book is very informative, but very depressing. Read "The Aquatic Panda" chapter to see what I mean. The Chinese knew so little about these astonishing creatures that their captivity measures killed many of them. Sad, sad story. Well written.

P. 86
"There was a lot of intellectual and moral support, I was told, but there didn't seem to be much actual progress. Apparently one of the major hold-ups had been their inability to form a committee. Even worse, although representatives from Conservati
Danny Deshong
Feb 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own, default
Really enjoyed this book it was bittersweet. I went into the book knowing the end result of the poor Yangtze river dolphin. Very easy to read and author honest in his opinions. I felt bad he did not get to go upon his dolphin survey before they were all wiped out. We cannot stand by and let other animals suffer the same fate. One of the best books about extinction I have read this far bravo!
Jan 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though a fairly depressing read, the passion fueling this book is obvious, as well as the research. Tales like these have always interested me and the dry humor and sarcasm makes it interesting as well. It's a sad tale that deserves a happy ending. Unfortunately, humans are not so idealistic.
May 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Educational, well-written, but ultimately a sad story.
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