Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Call for action to save endangered Taiwanese humpback dolphins

pic courtesy Wild At Heart

A coalition of environmental groups in Taiwan handed in a petition to the Executive Yuan - or Cabinet - today, calling on the government to take urgent action to protect a group of endangered dolphins that they say are facing imminent extinction.

Scientists believe there are less than 100 Indo –Pacific humpback dolphins – also known as sousa chinensis – living in a small area of waters off Taiwan’s west coast between Yunlin and Miaoli counties.

But they say their habitat is being rapidly degraded, mainly due to human activities – including extensive land reclamation and industrial and agricultural pollution of their waters.
Taiwan Humpback Dolphins: courtesy of FormosaCetus

While humpback dolphins exist in other parts of the world, including off the coast of China, and as far away as Africa, experts believe the group in Taiwan are a distinct sub-species, because of differences in their skin pigmentation and with their own unique habitat.

But, activists like Robin Winkler, director of the Wild At Heart Legal Defence Association, says their days could be numbered.

"They’re threatened by things like habitat loss, noise, pollution land relamation and so forth.

"These animals are protected by law and they’re clearly endangered. their habitat is also required by law to be protected. Unfortunately, it happens to be one of the most intensively developed areas of Taiwan..not just in the past, but also the future…including steel plants, petrochemical plants expansions and new plants."

He suggested campaigners might ask the authorities to intervene to compel certain companies to halt future plans if those development plans were believed to threaten the dolphins .

As a first step, though, activists want the government to declare a moratorium on future industrial projects in the area while specific measures are drawn up to better protect the dolphins and safeguard their habitat.

If not, they warn, the unique animals could disappear for ever within the next decade or two.

You can sign a petition or read more...check out this blog...


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