The most imperilled of all whales and dolphins, all but one of the five river dolphin species are considered "endangered" or "threatened." Each river dolphin has its own sad tale, but the stories are similar. Many of the world's rivers - dammed, overfished and polluted - simply have little remaining usable habitat.
In most of the countries in which river dolphins are found - China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and much of South America - greater numbers of people and their need for resources have added to the pressures on the rivers and surrounding land. Yet river dolphins survive partly because of the beliefs of the people who have lived alongside them. In China, the baiji was considered by some to be a princess, a creature of legend. In Brazil, the boto was spared because it was thought to be a sign of danger and misfortune. New settlers to the Amazon, however, do not share such respectful views.
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