If everything falls in place, Gujarat coast may emerge as tourist spot for watching whale sharks. Foreign experts have taken up a research project to study feasibility of developing whale shark eco-tourism in the state. The research programme is being undertaken under “Whale Shark Conservation Campaign” jointly carried out by Tata Chemicals Ltd, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and the forrest department of Gujarat.
“As part of the research programme, Tata Chemicals will fund Rs 2 crore for five years research programme,” said Alka Talwar, head, community development, Tata Chemicals.
A five member team of experts from Australia and US have already started working on the study. “Australia and Philippines have developed tourism based on whale sharks. However, a lot more needs to be known about the accessibility whale sharks and the duration of their stay in Gujarat waters,” said Dr. John Keesing of Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
Around 60 per cent of the whale sharks visiting Gujarat coast are female sharks and Gujarat could be one of the important breeding hub.
In order to track the movement of whale sharks, these experts will use satellite tags. “Initially, we will place 6 such tags, which will transmit information about whale shark migration,” he added.
Tata Chemicals has taken up various environment conservation projects as part of its corporate social responsibility. Some of the initiative include Save the Asiatic Lions projects and Coral Reef Conservation.
Under its Bio-diversity Reserve Plantation project, 80 acres plantation has been established for 124 species of flora such as grasses, ephemerals, shrubs and trees. Now, the company plans to scale up the acreage to 150 acres.