The world’s rarest mammal, a freshwater dolphin found only in China, was declared "functionally extinct" last night after a major international expedition to save the species ended without a single sighting.
The Yangtse dolphin, known as the baiji or white flag in Chinese and celebrated for its pale skin and distinctive long snout, is believed to be the biggest mammal to become extinct in modern times.
Scientists say it fell victim to the Chinese economic boom. Despite a dramatic decline in numbers in recent decades, a high-profile expedition with scientists from China, Britain, America and around the world expected to find enough survivors to form a rescue plan for the species.
Instead, its two research vessels docked in the Yangtse port city of Wuhan last night having scanned every corner of the river’s downstream stretches on a voyage of more than 2,000 miles, without seeing or hearing any trace of it.
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