The World Cetacean Alliance recently completed an online survey of stakeholders to identify ‘Areas of Interest’ for Whale Heritage Sites across Africa.
- Thirty three Areas of Interest were identified across 22 African countries.
- Respondents included: Whale watch industry 18.4%, NGOs 15.8%, Travel industry 11.8%, Universities 6.6%, and Local authority 5.3%
- Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris) and bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus / aduncus) were listed most regularly.
- Of 35 cetacean species reported across the Areas of Interest, IUCN list 3 species as Endangered, 1 species as Near Threatened, 2 species as Vulnerable, 14 species as Data Deficient, and 15 species are of Least Concern.
- The top four impacts on cetaceans were listed as: 1. Fishing practices (including bycatch); 2. Pollution; 3. Noise pollution; and 4. Ocean plastics.
- African respondents highlighted the following strengths in meeting the WHS criteria:
- Application of responsible whale watching guidelines, with commercial operators supporting research programmes.
- Ancient cultural links with cetaceans; historical whaling heritage; artistic associations; and whale festivals.
- Cetacean related education programmes delivered to local communities.
- Cetacean based conservation research and policy.
- Sustainable livelihoods are created, generating local employment, local communities take part in decisions, and responsible tourism management ensures active and ongoing improvement towards sustainability.
- Marine and terrestrial ecosystems are maintained and enhanced.
The survey results were presented at the Whale Heritage Sites Summit, Durban, South Africa, on 28-29 June 2017 by Graham Drucker (compiled by Beth Hinton), WCA Secretariat. A workshop followed in which we tested the criteria for Whale Heritage Sites on a number of African sites and found that it was possible for these sites to meet the criteria even if financial and other resources were limited.