Sharks are important for healthy, functioning coral reef ecosystems. However, across the world, there is a lack of understanding about the importance of sharks. Sharks are seen as a threat to humans and not worth conserving. This misconception exists even in Kenya, and it has hindered the conservation of reef sharks.
CORDIO, along with our partner, Coral Reef Care, have been running an education campaign in Kenya on coastal sharks. The campaign aims to raise awareness in coastal communities, including children, to improve local understanding of the importance of sharks in marine ecosystems and that, in particular, they are not a threat to humans. Reef sharks rarely attack humans, and when they do it is only because they feel threatened. It should be noted that sharks reportedly kill only about 10 humans a year worldwide.
A 2020 study by MacNeil and co-authors, including scientists from CORDIO, recorded zero sightings of reef sharks in Kenya and concluded such populations to be “functionally extinct”. Nevertheless, they are still caught in local fisheries, and their meat and oil is sold locally, while their fins are sold internationally at high prices for shark-fin soup. Fishing has been estimated to cause the loss of 100 million sharks every year.
A big part of this awareness campaign is, therefore, focused on shark awareness training of fishers and working with them to reduce the catches of threatened shark species through fishing gear management. The campaign will also run awareness training in schools and train fisheries officers in shark species identification.
CORDIO and Coral Reef Care have created awareness materials for sharks which include booklets for adults and kids, and a poster. This material has also been printed for distributed to Beach Management Units, communities, schools and other NGOs.
They are also available for free through CORDIO upon request. Interested organisations, schools or community groups can reach CORDIO at the following e-mail address, email@example.com, or download them below.
Sharks in Kenya need conservation attention. By increasing awareness of their importance, we are working collaboratively with government and fishing communities to protect them.
To learn more about Coral Reef Care, visit their website at https://www.coralreefcare.com
You can preview and download the awareness material below.
- 1) Adult Kit 2) Children’s Kit