Friday, 28 October 2011

Tears for the 'river pig'

Increasing pollution of the Yangtze River and the threat this poses to the finless porpoise is also a warning for a third of the nation's population that depends on these waters. Wang Ru reports.Growing up in Huanggang, a city by the Yangtze River in Central China's Hubei province, He Dan had heard from elderly fishermen about a rare fish, dubbed the "river pig" by locals.

volunteer is distraught after seeing the Yangtze River finless porpoise rescued in Shishou, Hubei province, in May. Gao Baoyan / For China Daily

The fishermen described them as shy animals that often chased their boats, making a whistling sound. However, the term "river pig" was not really appropriate for the clever animal, that fishermen recall leaping out of the water in pairs or as a group.

He says she never spotted a "river pig" in her childhood, but did witness the increasing dredging of the river to feed the construction sites on its banks, and the resulting muddying of its waters.
He, a junior student of Chinese literature at Central South University in Hunan province, recalls how shocked she was to see a photograph that stirred much online discussion. It was of a rescued dolphin-like animal seemingly shedding tears. She learnt it was the "river pig" - the Yangtze finless porpoise - of her childhood.

By Wang Ru (China Daily)

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