China's Garden of Eden
The rivers support dwindling populations of such rare creatures as the Yangtze's river dolphin, finless porpoise and alligator. The lakes provide critical habitat for migratory birds, including 95% of the wintering Siberian crane population. And the forested mountains jetting out above the river are home to the country's iconic giant panda.
Taming the dragon
While the Yangtze river basin is one of the most significant ecosystems in the world, the region's unique environment is under threat.
Densely populated and heavily industrialized cities have led to high levels of pollution and habitat loss. Deforestation and loss of wetlands to agriculture have increasingly led to floods.
The Yangtze river basin is also threatened by dams, which alter that natural flow of the river.
Not just panda protectionSince coming to China in the 1960s to work on panda conservation, WWF is today on the ground in the Yangtze river basin to:
- promote sustainable development
restore floodplains, lakes and wetlands
protect wildlife habitats and forests
- improve livelihoods of people who have depended on the Yangtze for centuries
Revitalizing Lake Hong
Last of the Yangtze River dolphins
The river dolphin once lived in the lower and middle reaches of the Yangtze River, Fuchun River, and in Dongting and Poyang lakes. About 100 were thought to survive in the middle reaches, but a 2006 survey failed to sight any individuals. The baiji is now considered functionally extinct.