Kerala

WTI campaign on whale shark in Lakshadweep

After spreading awareness of the need to protect the endangered whale shark along the Kerala coast, the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) has launched a campaign in Lakshadweep.

The largest living species of fish, the migratory whale shark, is most commonly found on the Gujarat and Lakshadweep coasts of India. Though listed in Schedule I (Part IIA) of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, which ensures maximum legal protection for the species, lack of awareness and indiscriminate hunting have led to a steep decline in whale shark population.

“They are the largest fish on earth and normally full-grown whale sharks reach 12 metres in length and weigh around 30 tonnes. But at an early age they are caught in the nets and are abandoned on the shore as they are not edible,” said G. Sethu, assistant field officer, WTI.

Awareness

As part of the campaign launched in association with the Lakshadweep Environment and Forests Department, the fisherfolk on the island will be made aware of the importance to protect the vulnerable species.

“Though they have no local market, shark fin is used to make some traditional delicacies in countries such as China. So the fishermen will be asked not to target and hunt the whale shark and release those get trapped in their nets to save them from regional extinction. Along with that we will conduct island shows and awareness sessions in schools,” he said.

The WTI started the campaign to protect the species in 2004 along the Gujarat coast and could save 724 whale sharks over the years.

“We covered the entire Kerala coast last year and we even recorded a rescue from Malappuram. Whale sharks are often sighted on the sea surface and are very harmless in nature. In some countries such as Australia there are whale shark tourism destinations where you can swim and snorkel with the species,” he said.

The programme was launched at the conclusion of Wildlife Week 2019 organised by the Lakshadweep Environmental Forest Department on October 9.

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Printable version | Jul 10, 2020 9:45:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/wti-campaign-on-whale-shark-in-lakshadweep/article29653329.ece

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