Thailand to implement new law to save blue whales from extinction

In a bid to save endangered blue whales from extinction, Thailand‘s Cabinet yesterday approved in principle a draft royal decree which designates blue whales and leopard sharks as “wildlife reserves,” under the Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act of 2019.

Blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) are already protected wild animals in Thailand, but the current laws have not been effective in stopping their small population from dwindling.

The species is close to extinction due to illegal hunting/whaling as well as climate change and ocean acidification which have reduced stocks of their primary food sources.

Deputy Director-General of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, Apichai Ekwanakul, said that blue whales are the largest animals in the world and therefore it is important that they are strictly conserved, reports DailyNews.

Blue whales have been spotted just three times on Thailand’s Andaman Coast, said Apichai. The first sighting was in 2007 at the Surin Islands in Phang Nga province. Then, a blue whale was spotted at Koh Libong in Trang province in 2013.

The third and final sighting took place five years ago at the remote Similan Islands in 2017, captured on video by a scuba diving instructor.

Once approved by the Office of the Council of State and Ministry of Resources, Balaenoptera musculus will gain more protection, said Apichai.

“If the blue whale’s status is upgraded, the government must implement stricter measures to protect the species that ensure that it is not disturbed, threatened, or harmed.

“This move with preserve the ecosystem of marine animals as well as stimulate people to be interested in conservation.”

The blue whale, found in all oceans apart from the Arctic, can grow up to 98 feet long, weigh 190 tonnes and live up to 90 years old. It is estimated that there are only 10,000 to 25,000 left in the world, representing just 3-11% of the species’ worldwide population during the previous century.

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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