The smiling angel of the Yangtze river


The Finless Porpoise has become a symbol of the great Yangtze river in China, having occupied it for thousands of years. And yet, there are fewer than 1,000 of them left in the wild. But with help from cutting-edge Hikvision technology, a new dedicated conservation effort could turn around the fate of this endangered angel.


2006 was a sad year for marine life, and indeed all animal life around the world. It was at the end of this year that the Baiji dolphin, native to the Yangtze River in China, was declared functionally extinct: the first such extinction globally for more than 50 years. It was also possibly the first dolphin in history to be pushed out of existence due to human activity.


In the wake of this terrible atrocity, we can only learn from our mistakes. And fortunately, that’s precisely what’s happening in the Yangtze today, through dedicated conservation efforts for the Yangtze Finless Porpoise.


More endangered than the Giant Panda
Known in China as ‘The Smiling Angel’ for its endearing perma-grin, the Yangtze Finless Porpoise is a close cousin to the Baiji, and the only aquatic mammal left in the Yangtze river. Sadly, this beautiful dolphin-like creature has been identified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as ‘Critically Endangered’. Only about 1,000 remained in the Yangtze River and adjoining lakes as of 2017.


To put it in context, there are fewer Finless Porpoises in the Yangtze than there are Giant Pandas in the wild.


The endangerment of this species is largely due to the same issues that made the Baiji extinct. Primarily, over-fishing is dramatically reducing the porpoise’s food supply, but pollution also plays a role, along with collisions due to increasing boat traffic on the river.


Hikvision: powerful technology for smarter conservation
Tohelp tackle the growing threat to the porpoise population, the Yangtze Finless Porpoise Conservation Project was launched in May 2019. This is a collaboration between the Chinese government and a variety of organizations, including the World Wide Fund for Nature, the One Planet Fund – and us at Hikvision.


Our surveillance technology is a key part of the conservation work, and two Hikvision solutions are being used: the first being our underwater cameras. These high resolution, anti-corrosion cameras will enable conservationists to virtually immerse themselves 24/7 throughout the porpoises’ aquatic habitat, monitoring the environment closely while collecting valuable data about the animals’ natural behavior in the wild.


The project is also using our unmanned aerial vehicles, coupled with high resolution Hikvision cameras, to patrol the habitat efficiently from above. The porpoise population is located within the main Yangtze river channel in central and eastern China. This kind of cutting-edge technology is therefore hugely valuable for efficient monitoring over such a broad area.


Conservation = collaboration
Protecting endangered species such as the Yangtze Finless Porpoise must be a collaborative effort. Governments, enterprises, NGOs and other social organizations need to work together to prevent our planet’s precious fauna from extinction.


In recent years, Hikvision has been engaging more and more in sustainable development initiatives. We are proud that our technology is being used to help monitor and protect a variety of endangered animals including pandas, Siberian tigers and bar-headed geese. Many of these species have been on earth for hundreds of thousands of years. Through our collaborative efforts, we hope they will remain protected for many, many more to come.


Find out more
Hikvision is committed to exploring the power of technology to secure the sustainability and biodiversity of the world. To find out more about our remote monitoring solutions and the value they can deliver to conservation, visit here, or contact us at


You can watch a video of our conservation work for the Yangtze Finless Porpoise here.