Wolfgang Leander is making some noise for sharks - again. Once more the focus is Aliwal Shoal and the resident Tiger sharks that seem to be vanishing to local poachers at an alarming rate.
While Wolf pulls no punches in his searing assessment of what needs to be done, the question "is anything being done" remains unanswered.
This site is the commercial playground of at least four individuals who have recently posted over-the-top self promotional videos of themselves as S.A shark conservationists, "leading the charge for sharks".
How about "Dartboard", "Ella", or "Sabine?"
Wolfgang Leander - Losing The Battle?
Three and a half years ago, when it became evident that reckless commercial fishermen were killing tiger sharks in the Aliwal Shoal MPA openly, I would say: Yes, near threatened, to use the classification of CITES.
Mind you: This is not about the "100 million sharks" killed every year. Nor is about the dwindling global tiger shark populations.
This is about the very tiger sharks of Aliwal Shoal, many of which were know to many divers from all over the world by their names. Almost legendary was "Dartboard", aka "Karin" to honor my wife. I say "was", sadly, as this most gentle, often playful and camera loving tiger shark lady hasn't been seen again since 2009, I believe.
"Dartboard" is most probably dead, as many other local tiger "girls" such as "Ella", "Sabine", "Mathilde". The poachers now work clandestinely, and the infamous shark nets are still functioning "efficiently"...
The dive reports I received lately are alarming: Very few tiger sharks sightings, and the tigers don't stay, making one or two brief passes only to leave the scene altogether.
One doesn't have to be a prophet to predict that the good old days of tiger shark diving in South Africa could soon be a thing of the past -
all those in South Africa who will be directly affected by the disappearance of the tigers finally get their act together, and ACT TOGETHER, jointly and forcefully!
Now, who the hell am I to tell those concerned, South Africans all, what they should do?
As I live in a far away country I should perhaps mind my own business, right? Or at least be 'more diplomatic and tactful' which is what one individual, an American, who has lived in South Africa for a couple of years doing some shark research, wrote me a couple of weeks ago.
This lady said that South Africans do not like to be told what they should do... OK, who likes to be told what one should do? Nobody does - however, should I or others care about such subtleties now that the tiger shark situation has become so very precarious?
This is not with regard to being "subtle" or "polite" or "politically correct", this is with regard to the tiger sharks that are in dire peril of being exterminated in the KZN area and elsewhere in the eastern South African coast by poachers and trophy hunters.
It is high time to realize that the situation has become alarming; urgent measures as the ones proposed by Lesley Rochat should be taken to get the authorities to effectively protect their sharks.
That's right: "Their" sharks as they are a most valuable asset considering that the shark dive "industry" of South Africa generates millions and millions of rands, provides for jobs, and greatly enhances the image of South Africa as one of the top eco-tourism destinations world-wide, both on land and underwater.
Aliwal Shoal is (or should I say: has been?), along with Tiger Beach in the Bahamas, the best interactive tiger shark dive spot, by far. Nowhere else on the blue planet is it possible to dive or snorkel as "up-close and personal" with tiger sharks as in these two dive destinations.
Look at the following pix, and tell me where there is a better place to freedive, cage-free, with large sharks:
A propos the Bahamas: This tourism oriented country has recently enacted a total ban on shark fishing in its territorial waters. Bahamian sharks are now fully protected. No hooks, no nets, no nothing. Florida is about to protect their tiger sharks. Fortunately, we can see a definite trend, a shining light in the tunnel.
The pressing question is: When will South Africa follow suit?