Coast KZN

11 Oct 2019

Durban awarded International Whale Heritage Site status

Bukeka Silekwa (Daily News) Picture: From left: Nonjabulo Dladla, Amanda Janse van Rensberg, Helga du Preez, Jean Pierre Prinsloo, Dudu Ntombela and Emil Unger welcome the International Whale Heritage Site status bestowed on Durban.

DURBAN has been awarded International Whale Heritage Site status – one of only two such sites in the world.

Whale Heritage Sites are granted to places where cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) are celebrated through art, education, research and cultural events; where sustainable practices and livelihoods are improved to ensure the health of cetacean habitats and the long-term economic health of human communities; and where respectful co-existence with cetaceans is supported through law, policy and co-operation.

Led by Helga du Preez and Melissa Lee, of Soul of South Durban Community Tourism Association, the campaign to bid for Whale Heritage Site status for eThekwini has borne fruit. Inspired by the World Whale Conference held in Durban in June 2017, Du Preez, supported by WildOceans’ Rachel Kramer, Matthew Cocks (WESSA) and Bluff ward councillor Jean Pierre Prinsloo, worked with the Bluff Steering Committee to meet the criteria required by the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA) to apply for certification.

“Whale Heritage Sites are becoming the gold standard for responsible whale-watching destinations worldwide,” said Jean-Michel Cousteau of the WCA.

Prinsloo said that out of nine international applications, only two were successful: the Bluff in Durban and Hervey Bay in Australia.

“This can be a strategic job creator and investment opportunity in our city and community. Given the difficult economic climate and high unemployment rate, such an opportunity should be widely embraced. This is also a chance for us to keep building towards our vision of making the Bluff a green community,” said Prinsloo.

Dylan Walker, chief executive of the Alliance, said: “We would like to thank the Bluff Steering Committee for the outstanding work undertaken that has culminated in this certification. We view the Bluff as a wonderful example of how a small, but dedicated, group of people working tirelessly can develop responsible and sustainable tourism with associated benefits for local human and cetacean communities in an area that faces many other environmental and social challenges.”