KEYNOTE PRESENTATION: Southern African Cetaceans – Diversity, Status, Threats and Management

Ken Findlay

Mammal Research Institute, University of Pretoria

The high diversity of some 50 species of cetaceans (of approximately 80 species worldwide) found within the Southern African sub-region and associated Southern Ocean waters reflect both the range in oceanographic conditions (and consequently faunal provinces of resident species), and the location of the subcontinent in relation to Southern Ocean and the consequent oceanic pathways of migratory species. The uncertainty in total species reflects taxonomic uncertainty rather than uncertainty in species range. This paper introduces the temporal-spatial aspects of local cetacean diversity, with resident species distributions ranging from localised to cosmopolitan and even semi-migratory within Southern African waters, while migratory species range seasonally across ocean systems. The current knowledge of the status of cetacean populations is reviewed, and while many of the migratory baleen whale species remain severely compromised through the historic perturbation of whaling pressure, the status of many of the resident species remain unknown as a result of the cost and difficulty of population assessments. Current anthropogenic threats are broad and range across a number of human marine-use and ecosystem-service sectors, including infrastructural development, resource extraction, and habitat modification. Current conservation management initiatives including threat management and mitigation are discussed and recommendations are proposed.


Keynote presentation Topic

Southern African Cetaceans – Diversity, Status, Threats and Management


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