Experts probe the death of rare whale

SPERM WHALE-WASHED-KWALE; A 16.5 meters Male Sperm Whale lies at the Kaya Waa beach in Kwale County after being washed ashore from the Indian Ocean waters at the weekend. [Courtesy,Standard]

Wildlife experts and conservationists are still trying to find out what killed a 17-metre whale that washed up on a secluded beach last weekend.

Villagers rushed to extract oil and cart away body parts from the sperm whale.

According to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), the villagers sawed off the parts and carted away large chunks of meat.

Experts say that the sperm whale is just emerging from the list of endangered species. Therefore, conservationists recommend that a report be made every time one dies, explaining the cause of death. 

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"Most of the teeth on the lower jaw were missing, cut off with a steel saw or just broken off," stated a joint report by KWS, the Watamu Marine Association and the Kenya Fisheries Services.

Whale oil

The report states that some of the injuries on the whale's body might have been caused by villagers out to tap its oils, which are said to fetch a substantial amount in the market.

"Members of the public were extracting oil that dripped from the whale's body probably due to the sun, while others extracted oil from the belly content, the nostrils and around the jaws," stated the report.

Villagers who spoke to the team of investigators who compiled the report indicated that the meat was boiled to extract more oil to be used for cooking and traditional medicine for skin, chest and ear infections. The rest of the meat was eaten.

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The report recommended further investigations on the exact cause of death of the whale and that its skeleton be secured.

Researchers further recommended that villagers near the ocean be sensitised on the need to preserve whale carcasses for analysis and issues related to conservation and health risk consequences.

"This will enable the public take precaution when carting away meat from such creatures," the report said.

 

Wildlife expertsKenya Wildlife ServiceWatamu Marine AssociationKenya Fisheries ServicesWhale