Is the Yangtze sturgeon extinct in the wild?

According to the IUCN Red List of threatened species, the Yangtze sturgeon is extinct in the wild. They blandly state that the number of mature individuals in the wild is zero (yes, 0). It is not often you see that number and it is obviously very disappointing indicating that it indicates a complete failure in conservation and a failure in the relationship between humankind and wildlife, in this instance, in China.

Yangtze sturgeon
Yangtze sturgeon. This is not the one in the story on this page. Image: Screenshot.

Update 29th of March 2023: I am pleased to report that The Times has a very upbeat article in the newspaper today. They state that for the first time in more than two decades the Yangtze sturgeon has laid eggs in the wild. Beijing’s scientists described it as a breakthrough for this species.

It seems that they have brought this species back from the dead. The researchers released 20 adult sturgeon (10 males and 10 females) into an artificial egg-laying nest in March in the south-west province of Sichuan.

The fish mated and the eggs hatched at the end of last week a researcher at the Yangtze River Fisheries Research Institute said in an interview with the People’s Daily, the governing party’s newspaper.

It’s been described as a milestone achievement. The fertilisation rate was above 50%. They said it took a lot of effort over many years for this to happen.

Du Hao said:

“It goes to prove that, if we have good river currents for Yangtze sturgeon and provide it with a good egg-laying area, it’s possible for the fish to achieve natural breeding in the river.”

Beijing considers it a priority to protect the environment and repair the damaged ecology and improved biodiversity. Wow. I’m surprised to hear that but an equally delighted to hear it from the Chinese government.


However, the assessment was carried out on 14 September 2019 and the assessment was published in 2022. Interestingly, China Daily reported on October 3, 2022, that a single Yangtze sturgeon had been spotted in the river. A river which as you might imagine is heavily polluted which is why wildlife can hardly live in it. Damming it has also caused great conservation problems.

They saw the single sturgeon in Central China’s Hubei Province. The sighting ignited hopes that the species was not actually extinct in the wild. Are there any captive Yangtze sturgeons by the way?

RELATED: Tears as every death brings the finless porpoise closer to extinction

They found this individual, slightly injured, in shallow waters. Officials from the local fishery administration attended to the fish as soon as possible. It was measured to be 37.8 inches in length and it weighed 8.8 pounds.

An official said that, “It was stranded with slight injuries when found but had renewed vigour after being treated. We wanted to release it as soon as possible so that it can resume eating.”

This almost extinct fish can live to 20-30 years in the wild. The fish species has been monitored and it was shown that it had stopped its natural reproduction around the year 2000.

RELATED: River dolphin starved to death by a plastic bottle ring which closed its mouth

There have been attempts over many years to protect and conserve the Yangtze sturgeon’s wild population without success. For example, 50,000 Yangtze sturgeon were released into the river in October 2021. That by the way answers my question about whether there are captive Yangtze sturgeons! They clearly are and lots of them.

The experts said that they hope that the one they found in the wild would live for a long time and they estimated the age to be around 5-6. The reports that I’m reading does not tell us whether the introduction of the very large number of sturgeons into the river was successful.

The conclusion is that officially Yangtze sturgeon are still extinct in the wild but unofficially there may be one living! Or more. There needs to be two procreate. Is this the last wild sturgeon on the planet? I hope not.

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Speciesism - 'them and us' | Cruelty - always shameful Note: I will donate 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment made over the next three months on pages where comments can be made.
follow it link and logo

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

At heart this site is about ANTHROPOCENTRISM meaning a human-centric world.

Post Category: Conservation