Whale shark population rises in Tanzanian marine park

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DAR ES SALAAM, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- The population of whale sharks in Tanzania's Mafia Island Marine Park, the only home for the whale sharks in the East African nation, has increased to 206 in December 2019 from about 100 in 2012, according to a report published on Thursday by the WWF Tanzania.

The report published in WWF Tanzania's Conservation Bulletin said the increase followed an effective conservation jointly implemented by WWF and the government of Tanzania.

Since early 2012 WWF facilitated awareness raising to the stakeholders, including fishers, boat riders, tour operators, tour guides, district authorities, hoteliers and other investors on the importance of coordinated management of whale sharks on Mafia Island Marine Park, said the report.

The report said threats that put whale sharks at risk included entanglement in fishing nets, injuries caused by boat rides and hunting for meat and fins.

"Even if fishers are not trying to catch the sharks, but their large ring-nets can trap, entangle and injure the whale sharks. Sharks can get amputated especially the fins during untangling from fishing nets," said the report.

Mafia Island, located 20 kilometers offshore from the eastern extent of the Rufiji delta on the southern coast of Tanzania, is the only home for the whale sharks in the east African nation.

Whale sharks are protected and listed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list of endangered, threatened and protected species. Enditem

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