Jonathan Mirsky

Death of the Baiji

Witness to Extinction: How We Failed to Save the Yangtze River Dolphin

By

Oxford University Press 234pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

The cover photograph is the saddest part of this sad book. Gracefully curved in the water, showing his unique long bill, is Qi Qi, one of the very few Yangtze River dolphins (or ‘baiji’) ever photographed. Now dead, Qi Qi was a rare captive.  You will probably never see another, in the Yangtze or, like Qi Qi, in a Chinese reserve. As Samuel Turvey observes in his informative, comprehensive – and angry – study, in the past 500 years ‘only four other entire mammal families have also died out’.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter