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Chinese paddlefish

  • 11 Jan 2020
  • 2 min read

Why in news?

Recently, the Chinese paddlefish (Psephurus gladius) has been declared extinct by Chinese scientists.

  • It was last spotted in 2003.

Key Points

  • It was one of the largest freshwater fish.
  • Habitats: Freshwater and estuaries.
  • IUCN status: Critically Endangered (Although declared extinct by Chinese scientists but its IUCN status is Critically Endangered, which was last assessed in 2009).
  • It was endemic to the Yangtze River (including brackish water of the mouth) in China. It was found in China only.
    • Yangtze River has seen half of the unique species to its waters go extinct.
    • It is the longest river in Asia, the third-longest river in the world and the longest river to flow entirely in one country.
    • It rises in the northern part of the Tibetan Plateau and flows in a generally easterly direction to the East China Sea.
  • Overfishing and habitat fragmentation and dam-building caused its population to dwindle from the 1970s onwards. The researchers estimate that it became functionally extinct by 1993.
  • It is one of only two paddlefish species in existence.
  • Second is the American paddlefish (IUCN Status: Vulnerable) species found in the Mississippi River Basin in the United States.

Criteria for Extinction

  • The Red List criteria of the IUCN has several categories for extinction
    • Critically Endangered: species faces a high probability of extinction.
    • Extinct in the wild: means a species survives only in a captive environment.
    • Locally extinct: ceased to exist in a particular area but may exist in other areas.
    • Functionally extinct: continues to exist but it has too few members to reproduce meaningfully enough to ensure survival.
    • Globally extinct: no surviving member anywhere. When there is no reasonable doubt left that its last member has died.
    • Once declared extinct, a species is not eligible for protective measures and conservation funding.

Source: IE

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