- Whale sharks, known locally as butanding, are now officially endangered
- They were once listed as only “vulnerable” but are now found to be closer to extinction
- This is from the latest update on the IUCN Red List of endangered animals
Whale sharks, known locally as butanding, are now officially considered an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The IUCN elevated the conservation of the whale sharks, which are the largest species of fish in the world, from “vulnerable” to “endangered” in its Red List that tracks down the conservation status of flora and fauna around the world that are facing a high risk of global extinction.
Whale sharks can be found mainly in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Indo-Pacific, which includes the seas of the Philippines where they have become an eco-tourism attraction in the provinces of Sorsogon and Cebu.
In fact, the IUCN noted that conservation efforts in the Philippines and other countries like India and Taiwan have led to the end large-scale fishing of whale sharks. However, it noted that whale sharks continue to be harvested in southern China and Oman.
“While international whale shark trade is regulated through the species’ listing on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), more needs to be done domestically to protect whale sharks at a national level,” explained Marine Megafauna Foundation co-founder Simon Pierce, who also led the assessment by the IUCN.
With this latest announcement, these gentle giants are now one threat level away from being “critically endangered” which is the highest danger level on the IUCN Red List before a species becomes extinct or wiped off the face of the planet forever.
The IUCN will be officially releasing its full update to the Red List of Threatened Species at the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016 in September.