Tian-e-Zhou Oxbow Nature Reserve

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The Tian-e-Zhou Oxbow Nature Reserve is an area of wetland in the Yangtze basin near Shishou, Hubei province, People's Republic of China. Inside the reserve is the Tian'e-Zhou lake which was an intended sanctuary for the baiji (Yangtze river dolphin) and is currently holding 28 finless porpoises. [1]

Yangtze longest river in China

The Yangtze or Yangzi is the longest river in Asia, the third-longest in the world and the longest in the world to flow entirely within one country. It rises in the northern part of the Tibetan Plateau and flows 6,300 km (3,900 mi) in a generally easterly direction to the East China Sea. It is the sixth-largest river by discharge volume in the world. Its drainage basin comprises one-fifth of the land area of China, and is home to nearly one-third of the country's population.

Shishou County-level city in Hubei, Peoples Republic of China

Shishou is a county-level city under the administration of the prefectural-level city Jingzhou, in the south of Hubei province, near its border with Hunan province, and is located in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River. The Swan Islet Wetland of the Yangtze River in this area is the world’s largest national natural reserve both for wild elks(Milu, or David Deer) and for Chinese river dolphins. The Shishou City National Baiji Reserve for Chinese river dolphins is nearby. It shares its name with a stream flowing into the Yangtze River. In addition, the area enjoys convenient transportation, with an hour’s drive from Yueyang East Railway Station on the Beijing-Guangzhou high-speed railway line, and 70 kilometers from Jingzhou Railway Station on the Shanghai-Wuhan-Chengdu high-speed railway line. Moreover, Shishou boasts a diversified landscape, including mountains, hills, lakes, rivers, terraces and plains, as well as abundant resources such as rice, cotton, oil plants, eggs, fish, and lotus roots.

Hubei Province

Hubei is a landlocked province in Central China. The name of the province means "north of the lake", referring to its position north of Dongting Lake. The provincial capital is Wuhan, a major transportation thoroughfare and the political, cultural, and economic hub of Central China.


The reserve

In 1988, the River Dolphin Research group in Wuhan proposed the idea of placing the rapidly declining baiji in the Tian'e-Zhou oxbow lake. The reserve was intended to hold any captured baiji, since it had a healthy population of fish and could sustain over 50 baiji if breeding was successful. The oxbow was connected to the Yangtze during the summer season when the water level was high, so nets were installed to ensure the baiji would not escape. Five finless porpoises were first introduced in 1990 to see if it was a suitable habitat. Further relocation attempts took place, however some porpoises died and others escaped the reserve during floods. In 1995, an adult female baiji was caught and immediately transported to the oxbow. After a few days she was seen swimming and feeding. After the 1996 flood she was found dead, entangled in the nets preventing her from leaving the reserve. Scientists studying her stomach contents show that there was little food inside, likely as a result of competition with more aggressive porpoises. She was the last baiji to live in the Tian'e-Zhou reserve. [2]

Oxbow lake U-shaped lake formed by a cut-off meander of a river

An oxbow lake is a U-shaped lake that forms when a wide meander of a river is cut off, creating a free-standing body of water. This landform is so named for its distinctive curved shape, which resembles the bow pin of an oxbow. In Australia, an oxbow lake is called a billabong, from the indigenous Wiradjuri language. In south Texas, oxbows left by the Rio Grande are called resacas.

Finless porpoise species of porpoise

The Indo-Pacific finless porpoise, or finless porpoise, is one of seven porpoise species. Most of the population has been found around the Korean peninsula in the Yellow and East China Seas, although a freshwater population is found around Jiuduansha near Shanghai at the mouth of China's Yangtze River. Genetic studies indicate that the finless porpoise is the most basal living member of the porpoise family.

Baiji species of river dolphin

The baiji is a type of freshwater dolphin thought to be the first dolphin species driven to extinction due to the impact of humans. Nicknamed "Goddess of the Yangtze". Since Baiji means 'white fin' in Chinese, it means 'white-finned dolphin'. In China, the dolphin is also called Chinese river dolphin, Yangtze River dolphin, whitefin dolphin and Yangtze dolphin. It was regarded as the goddess of protection by local fishermen and boatmen in China. It is not to be confused with the Chinese white dolphin or the finless porpoise.

See also

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Dongting Lake large, shallow lake in northeastern Hunan province, China

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Poyang Lake Largest freshwater lake in China and is located in Jiangxi Province

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Functional extinction End of viability for a population

Functional extinction is the extinction of a species or other taxon such that:

  1. It disappears from the fossil record, or historic reports of its existence cease;
  2. The reduced population no longer plays a significant role in ecosystem function; or
  3. The population is no longer viable. There are no individuals able to reproduce, or the small population of breeding individuals will not be able to sustain itself due to inbreeding depression and genetic drift, which leads to a loss of fitness.
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Yi'an District, formerly Tongling County, is a district of the city of Tongling, in the south of Anhui province, lying on the southern and eastern (right) bank of the Yangtze River. The total area is 1,113 km2 (430 sq mi). The population is 716,300.

Poyang Lake Dam dam in Jiujiang, Jiangxi, China

The Poyang Lake Dam, referred to as the Poyang Lake Water Conservancy Project, is dam proposed to maintain water levels at Poyang Lake in Jiangxi Province, China. The lake is China's largest freshwater resource but has significantly decreased in size during the 21st century due to heavy damming, drought and dredging. Construction of the dam can also cause severe damages on remnant population of finless porpoises.

Tianzhou or Tian Zhou may refer to:

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Narrow-ridged finless porpoise species of mammal

The narrow-ridged finless porpoise is a newly accepted species, by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), of porpoise endemic to the western Yangtze river in China and the East China Sea, Yellow Sea, and around Japan. There are two subspecies: the Yangtze finless porpoise and the East Asian finless porpoise. After the functional extinction of the Yangtze river dolphin and the rapid decreasing of population, the Chinese government has given this species the utmost conservation status of National First Grade Key Protected Wild Animal to ensure its survival. Global conservation agencies and charities, such as the World Wildlife Fund and IUCN, have been collaborating with the Chinese government to ensure the survival of the species.


  1. "Scientists Join Hands to Seek the Last Yangtze River Dolphin". WWF China. Archived from the original on November 12, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-19.
  2. Samuel Turvey, Witness to Extinction. Retrieved 2011-08-12.