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Sanctuaries for Endangered Sturgeon, Turtle
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China has built a salvage center in the Yichang section of the Yangtze River where Chinese sturgeon spawns to protect the endangered species.

An 80-km river section from Gezhouba Dam, the first dam along the Yangtze, to Lujiahe shallows has also been set as a nature reserve for the species, said an official with the fishery bureau of Yichang, central China's Hubei Province.

The central government has invested more than 10 million yuan in the Chinese sturgeon protection project, including the establishment of the salvage center, the nature reserve and others.

The Chinese sturgeon is one of the oldest vertebrates in the world, surviving for more than 150 million years, a "living fossil" under state-level protection.

It is a migratory fish mainly living in the Yangtze River valley area, but its breeding place disappears in 1981 as the damming of the upper stream of the river. Fortunately, a natural spawning area was found downstream near Gezhouba Dam.

Scientists working on Chinese sturgeon conservation issued a report in July that the population of the rare species in the Yangtze River appeared to have dropped sharply since last year.

A report from the Shanghai Yangtze Estuary Chinese Sturgeon Conservation Administration said that scientists had located just 14 young sturgeons as of July in the Chongming monitoring base, an area where the sturgeons are believed to gather, compared with 600 at the same time last year.

"We used the same methods to trace the fish at the same time and place, but unfortunately that's the result we got," said Liu Jian, director of the administration.

The report said at least 100,000 Chinese sturgeons had been released into the Yangtze this year to restock the river. In Shanghai alone, about 2,156 artificially-bred fry were released, but only five had been detected to date.

Nature reserve planned for endangered turtle

A 3,000-hectare nature reserve will be set up in Anhui Province, east China to preserve and protect an endangered turtle species, which scientists said only about 100 are living in the wild.

The reserve at Hongxing Township, Yixian County, will cover the Qingxi River valley where the golden-headed box turtles live, according to the Yixian county government.

Experts and government officials are seeking technical and financial aid from wild animal protection organizations home and abroad for the protection of the species, said Dr. Lu Shunqing with the Anhui Huangshan College.

The turtle is an extremely rare animal species which was found in Anhui in 1988 and was listed as provincial class-A protected animal species in 1992, said Lu.

It was not on the national list of endangered animals for the late discovery, according to Lu.

Scientists from the School of Life Science of Anhui Normal University who have studied the animal for seven years warned that there are only 100 golden-headed box turtles left in the wild and the species may disappear in 10 years if no efficient measures taken.

Since the establishment of the first Dinghushan nature reserve, China now has 303 national nature reserves which play an active role in protecting rare species.

(Xinhua News Agency September 1, 2007)

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