- The whale shark, known locally as “butanding,” has been declared as an endangered species
- Winghead sharks was also listed as endangered while Bornean orang-utans were declared as critically endangered
- Animal conservation specialists have urged world leaders to work together in stopping the illegal hunting of whale sharks especially in Southern China and Oman
The whale shark, known in the Philippines as “butanding,” has been listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The international network’s July report listed both the butanding and winghead sharks as endangered or near extinction, while the Bornean orang-utans were declared as critically endangered or just a step away from becoming completely extinct.
"It is alarming to see such emblematic species slide towards extinction. These new IUCN Red List assessments emphasise how urgent it is for the conservation community to act strategically to protect our planet’s incredible diversity of life,” IUCN's Global Species Programme Director Jane Smart said.
Smart explained that the Earth’s forests and oceans can only continue to provide us with our needs and resources if humans will work to improve the environmental condition and to preserve the different animal species.
IUCN pointed out that the number of whale sharks left in the waters has been reduced to more than half in the past 75 years. Human hunting and getting accidentally killed by ship propellers are some of the biggest reasons for the diminishing numbers of butanding.
Whale sharks, which are often found with tuna, also end up being accidentally caught by fisherman looking for tuna.
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India, Taiwan and the Philippines have been able to stop large-scale whale shark fishing in their territories but they continue to be caught and killed in other regions such as Oman and southern China.
"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," said Simon Pierce, a member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Shark Specialist Group.
Marine biology experts agree that every nation has to increase their efforts in protecting the butanding from extinction and to put pressure on countries which are not exerting enough effort to stop large-scale fishing of whale sharks.