Donsol is a third class municipality in the province of Sorsogon, with a population of 49,711 according to the 2015 Census. Local and international tourists know of Donsol because of the whale shark interactions, a common sight during the months of March and April. The presence of the Whale Shark, locally known as the Butanding, has contributed to the improvement of Donsol’s local economy, improving the livelihoods of many people.
WWF-Philippines works with the Donsol local government and key tourism stakeholders in implementing a community-based Whale Shark Ecotourism Program. The program has generated jobs for locals - many of whom are now Butanding Interaction Officers (BIOs), tour guides, boat crew members, captains, homestay owners, resort staff, and associated service providers. We consider these locals as modern-day environmental frontliners who are showing the world how sustainability and conservation can go hand-in-hand with economic development and livelihood generation.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has taken the world by storm, and its effects have been felt by the entire Philippines, including Donsol. What was once considered as thriving months for tourism have now been turned into periods of quarantine, which has affected not only the whale shark tourism operations but the entire economy of the Donsol community.
We need your help so we can support our environmental frontliners in Donsol during these challenging times. Your generous contribution will help us provide food assistance to 278 families in our partner community. Because of the lack of tourism income, they have been struggling to feed their families and to provide for their daily basic needs. We want to be there for them during this difficult period and we can only accomplish this with your generosity.
We can be frontliners from home for our environmental frontliner kababayans in Donsol. Together, let’s support the community of Donsol as they continue to #ChangeTheEnding for our endangered butandings and their natural habitat!