WARNING - GRAPHIC CONTENT: In a distressing incident that has highlighted the cruel treatment of ocean wildlife in certain parts of the world, a group of beachgoers in Lima, Peru, brutally attacked an endangered whale shark that had become entangled in a fishing net and washed ashore.
The incident ironically occurred on International Whale Shark Day, August 30, when locals found the stranded whale shark, still alive and struggling. Instead of rendering aid or alerting rescuers, video shows a man brandishing a knife and slicing off the creature's fin while others look on, cheering the heinous act.
Whale sharks, known for their remarkable longevity with a lifespan of up to 150 years, are a protected species due to their exceptionally low reproduction rate. This status makes the incident even more alarming and raises concerns about the conservation of these magnificent creatures.
The cruel act has drawn widespread condemnation from animal welfare organisations and conservationists, and exposed the grim underbelly of the shark fin trade, which is rampant in the region. Peru is the world's largest exporter of shark fins, according to marine protection organisation Oceana.
Killing whale sharks is prohibited in Peru, but their fins command exorbitant prices on the black market, posing a grave threat to their population. Demand is driven primarily by several Asian countries, where whale shark meat is considered a delicacy and is believed to have medicinal properties.
Local police have launched an investigation into the incident and are calling on the public to help identify those involved.
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