SOUTH AFRICA: SHARKS AND TOURISM: A WIN-WIN DEAL
WESTERN AUSTRALIAN SHARK CULLING – ITS EFFECT ON SOUTH AFRICA
In 2004-2005, a great white shark named Nicole travelled from Gansbaai near Cape Town, South Africa to Exmouth, Western Australia, and back – a journey of 20,000 km. These apex predators are ocean travellers and there is understandable outrage expressed by South Africans about the culling of great white sharks in Western Australia.
My good friend, dive operator and shark conservationist, Roland Mauz of African Dive Adventures in South Africa recently commented:
“I hope it opens a few eyes. Australia does not have a good image when it comes to nature conservation. Taking those valuable animals out the way it is being done in Western Australia is rather medieval and cave man behaviour on the part of the government.
It is very sad that such a thing can happen in a time where the whole world is slowly turning to protecting these threatened animals.
We talk about this almost daily. I have 20 divers from Europe, mostly German, with me at the moment. This is not a group but individual divers, couples and a small group of friends who independently have decided to come to us this time of the year to dive with sharks.
Every single diver has had ten times more than he or she bargained for in terms of a shark diving experience and fun. We have tigers, bulls, great hammerheads, black tips and guitars sharks. We bait them so they come even closer to us and we have more thrills watching them.
Not even a slight hint of a threat ever comes from the sharks. They are interested in the bait which we keep to an absolute minimum so we are not actually feeding them. They are as curious in us as we are foreign creatures to them. We have an interacting, friendly and safe relationship with these animals.
Every diver spends a minimum of €1000-2000 while they are here. Some money comes to my business, some to the local petrol stations, the restaurants, the supermarkets, the clothing boutiques, the car rental companies, the airlines, the accommodation providers, the list goes on.
I in turn spend my income again on all kinds of goods and services and so do all the others who receive a share of the diving tourist dollar.
We have 1000-1500 divers a year. Every single diver is only here to see the sharks of Protea Banks. Not one of them would come if there were no sharks left.
Do you see the tourism value of our sharks?
I wish Australia would understand this”.