Whale Shark in Danger off the East African Coast
Efforts are underway to maximize the survival chances of the whale shark. According to the internationally respected red list of endangered species, their numbers are shrinking.
Whale sharks face danger as they follow their migration path along the Kenyan coast.
Their internal organs are in high demand.
[Ali Sultan, Fisherman]:
"We use it because the liver is long; it is bigger than the other normal shark. The normal shark doesn't have big liver. It's normally small ones. That's why we take the whale shark. The liver is big so we can use it on our boat and we can keep it for the following years and for the future instead of buying small livers from the small shark."
Shark fishing is a means of earning enough money to survive, and it has been a way of life for many on the Kenyan coastline for generations.
And to protect their boats and keep them sea-worthy, fishermen regularly paint their vessels with liters of shark liver oil.
Fishermen have no qualms about killing the creatures as they have no protection under current legislation.
And although the whale shark is listed in Kenya's new Wildlife Conservation and Management Bill, it's unclear when this will become law.
Conservationists are raising awareness and educating the public about the plight of the whale shark.
[Jennifer Khalai, Student]:
"This animal, they have to stay in the water. When somebody comes from somewhere and wants to see them, they can see them. Anybody, they can come and see them but I do not think it's a good idea to catch them."
An average of one whale shark sighting per day was recorded by experts in February and March this year - compared with five per day in 2008.
Public awareness campaigns and eco-tourism have been able to reduce the demand for shark liver oil in some other countries.
It's hoped initiatives in Kenya will also succeed in giving these gentle giants the freedom to roam in the waters off the East African coast.