MANILA - Delegates to this year's biggest international summit on protecting wildlife have agreed to include the whale shark, locally known as "butanding", in the list of species that need international protection.
Government ministers and representatives of environmental organizations from several countries who went to Manila last week to attend the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species, called for the protection of 34 animals, many of which are nearing extinction.
These include Africa’s great carnivores, 10 species of vulture, and the endangered whale shark.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said among the measures agreed on is banning the controversial practice of whale shark-feeding by tourists, that is being done by some tour operators in Oslob, Cebu.
Scientists have said that feeding the sharks disrupts their natural cycle of migration, with many sharks opting to stay in the waters of Oslob.
Tourists will also no longer be allowed to touch or get too close to whale sharks.
The proceedings of the summit, held from Oct. 23-28, went to the Manila Declaration on Sustainable Development and Migratory Species. - with a report from Apples Jalandoni, ABS-CBN News