Researchers at Stellenbosch University, South Africa are warning against the rapid extinction of the country’s great white shark population over the last few years.
Their study, which was published in the Marine Ecology Progress has shown that the great white shark population has dropped by half, making it the most endangered species in Africa at the moment.
Describing the study as the largest ever field research study in South Africa, scientists fear the ecological space for breeding and long-term survival remains low as leader of the research, Sara Andreotti fears the rare species may not have the necessary environment for survival.
“The numbers in South Africa are extremely low. If the situation stays the same, South Africa’s great white sharks are heading for possible extinction.
Previous research on other species indicate that a minimum of 500 breeding individuals are required to prevent inbreeding depression,” Andreotti revealed.
So far, the cause of these extinctions have been related to pockets of trophy hunting and pollution. The study further proves that around 1,000 shark deaths between 1978 and 2008 have been linked to human protection measures such as shark nets , a development which has sparked fears over the imbalance of the ecosystem.
The study predicts that the “loss of such an apex predator will have a cascade of detrimental effects on the ecological stability of the marine environment”.