Aliwal Shoal Tiger Shark - most probably killed by now...
Photo: Wolfgang Leander (2008)
While other countries are realizing that it is important to protect the sharks, South Africa seems to be going backward.
I don't want to get into a political discussion as I will inevitably be told by my South African ex-friends that there are too many local idiosyncrasies for an outsider to know to be able to utter a balanced opinion. As if such a common place would not apply to any other country on the planet...
Today I received the news that up to some seventeen (!!) tiger sharks have been caught recently, and killed, in the infamous shark nets facing the world-famous Aliwal Shoal shark diving spot, a Marine Protected Area (MPA).
If you have a Facebook account you should be able to access this link. If not, here is what Lesley Rochat wrote:
Some of you might recall that last year I had suggested that all concerned should form a solid alliance of shark activists, conservation organizations, and shark operators vis-a-vis the government to get them to follow the example of other countries to FULLY protect their sharks which, of course, would have to include taking down the sharks nets.
Except for Lesley Rochat, Fiona Ayerst, and shark operator Walter Bernardis who would have spearheaded such an initiative, there was no resonance worth mentioning within the South African shark community, at least not that I am aware of.
All those South African shark operators who claim to love sharks preferred not to expose themselves, and, as they always put it, rather work "behind the scenes", each on his / her own depending on the "contacts" they have.
As long as these business people seem to be incapable of joining forces leaving their own agendas aside, at least for once, nothing will change.
And when they find out, yet again, that the Natal Sharks Board have pulled in another batch of dead tiger sharks, they will all start screaming and whining unisono with the backing of some voices from far away places such as Toronto, and demand that "this has to stop". It's pathetic.
Already now tiger shark sightings have become a rarity in Aliwal Shoal.
Soon the truly magnificient tiger sharks of Aliwal Shoal will become extinct, thanks to the Natal Sharks Board and the lack of determination of the shark operators to launch a frontal attack on the government. After all, they will be directly affected by this particularly unfortunate development that was already foreseeable only a few years ago.
Perhaps the sad news about the killing field that is the Aliwal Shoal MPA will have the effect of a wake-up call among all those who either make a living with the tiger shark dive business or "just" care unselfishly for the well-being of these most gracious creatures.