July 25, 2006

South Africa to burn beached whale carcass

KOMMETJIE BEACH, South Africa (Reuters) - South African
conservationists are to burn the carcass of a 15-meter
(47-foot) whale that washed ashore near Cape Town, officials
said on Tuesday.

The dead 34-tonne southern right whale washed up onto the
quiet Kommetjie beach 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Cape
Town on Friday, but it was still unclear how it had died.

"After discussions ... it's now been decided to burn the
carcass," Table Mountain National Park spokeswoman Janine
Willemans said in a statement.

"This operation will start tomorrow (Wednesday), and the
area will be closed off to the public for the duration," she
said, warning residents the burning fat and oil of the whale
would create massive black smoke.

The whale has drawn huge crowds of curious onlookers over
the past four days, with young and old clambering over
blubber-strewn rocks to get a closer look at the giant mammal.

Children played on the carcass on Tuesday as officials
watched, while dozens of other onlookers covered their noises
to avoid the overpowering stench.