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Fauna Feature: The Butanding

Aside from the Philippine Eagle, which we discussed here, our Fauna case by Kai Javier showcases two other endangered Philippine animals. This feature focuses on the whale shark, otherwise known as the butanding. 

The Whale Shark by World Wildlife Organization


Though these gentle giants can be found in all tropical oceans, the Philippines is home to one of the largest whale shark populations in the world

The butanding are the largest sharks alive today and travel long distances to consume their main source of food, plankton, and to reproduce. The World Wildlife Organization shares that the presence of whale sharks across the globe emphasizes the presence of plankton together with the overall health of our oceans.


Threats to the whale shark include a demand for their meat, fins, and oil, whale tourism which negatively affects their feeding, injuries caused by boat propellers, and becoming bycatch (accidental capture of non-target species by fishing gear). This has led to their endangered classification by the Union for Conservation of Nature, meaning they face a high risk of extinction in the wild

Whale Shark Interaction by Jürgen Freund


Internationally, WWF studies shark habits to learn more about whale sharks and increase protection for the species. Due to the booming whale tourism industries in both Mexico and the Philippines, the organization aids these nations in ensuring whale shark safety during interactions. Awareness has also been raised with boat operators regarding whale shark movements which has resulted in less boat collisions with whale sharks.

In the Philippines, Donsol has been recognized as a whale shark hotspot. WWF-Philippines has partnered with local government to implement a community-based whale shark ecotourism program that targets increasing our understanding of the whale shark population in the nation while also sustainably managing whale shark interactions

To ensure a healthy feeding ground and environment for the whale sharks, WWF-Philippines conducts water quality analyses and plankton surveys in Donsol Bay. This partnership has also aided livelihood by creating jobs for locals such as butanding interaction officers, boat crew members, and more. 

The Whale Shark on the Fauna case by Kai Javier


All the above information and images are from World Wildlife Foundation and WWF-Philippines. Learn more about whale sharks here and help WWF's whale shark conservation efforts by symbolically adopting a whale shark here

To read up on the WWF-Philippines Whale Shark Program and aid them in their research, visit this page.

Other simple ways we can help the whale sharks are by implementing sustainable practices in our daily lives. This includes reducing our use of single use plastics, refraining from littering and instead disposing of our waste properly, and more. Similarly, you can do your part in decreasing the demand for shark products by refusing to purchase or consume them.

Stay tuned for more sustainability tips to come, including a feature on an eco-friendly plastics disposal method soon!