The background (in brief)...
In August 2010, HEPCA received a number of phone calls from members of the local community claiming that 4 bottlenose dolphins were being held captive in a swimming pool of a family villa in a residential area of Hurghada. We can be forgiven for thinking initially that these claims were false. Who would be so cruel or ridiculous to attempt something like this!? However, much to our dismay, upon further investigation it was revealed that in fact this story was true.
We now know that these dolphins did have the proper CITES licences, although proper quarantine facilities that followed the guidelines were not provided.
HEPCA launched into action bringing international vets to assist us with monitoring the condition of the animals, planning alternative quarantine sites (with the generous assistance of ERC and Sahl Hasheesh Resort Community), seeking assistance from Ric O'Barry of the Earth Island Institute, and discussing the situation with officials to ensure that adequate enforcement was in place to ensure the animals were moved to a safer and more acceptable facility.
During this time much of the local community were alarmed and dismayed by the situation and we organised a dolphin awareness night to gather support and update the community on the current actions being taken. The night saw over 250 members of the community gather together.
At the same time, as HEPCA did not have control over the animals, it became increasingly difficult for us to get access to them. The owner of the dolphins became increasingly hostile towards our presence and at times our teams experienced violence and aggression.
The owner was given a time period in order to provide an alternative situation for the dolphins. If he failed to provide a facility that conformed to the guidelines, HEPCA would have been asked to take the dolphins to the area in Sahl Hasheesh that had been prepared. Unfortunately for us, the owner responded to the demand and in early October the dolphins were moved to a second facility in the desert.
At this time we posted many news flashes to our members and supporters within which we stated, "In HEPCA’s opinion, just moving the dolphins from one dirty hole in the ground to another is not enough! There are no congratulations due to the owner; the dolphins should not have been here in the first place."
We stand by this statement and from this day have launched a strong campaign to ban dolphinariums in the Red Sea.
The campaign is two-fold:
1. Lobbying the government to enforce a complete ban on dolphinariums in the Red Sea;
2. Public awareness and boycott of any dolphinarium in existence (Sharm el Sheikh) and potential dolphinariums (Hurghada).
The second element of our campaign includes gathering support on a corporate level from international tour operators. We are currently in the process of sending our 'Letters of Commitment' to the major tour operators, with their agreement stating that they will not promote or take tourists to dolphinariums within the region. If there is no trade, there is no reason for being.
We will continue to keep our members & supporters up-to-date with our progress and thank you all for your unwavering energy.