Nairobi News


CNN edits story on whales discovery in Kenya following backlash

International broadcaster CNN has been forced to edit a story on their website on how a Caucasian woman from London discovered whales in Kenya.

Their retraction came after the media house received backlash from Kenyans.

In the article titled “The Woman who found whales in Kenya”, Ashleigh Stewart, a former lawyer from London, claimed that she moved to Kenya with her marine biologist husband, heard tales from local residents about whales and dolphins, and took it upon herself to document and photograph the mammals, whose existence local residents had said they had known about for more than 30 years.

“A headline in an earlier version of this story overstated Jane Spilsbury’s role in finding whales in Kenya. She was instrumental in documenting their migration. An earlier version of the story also included two quotes from Spilsbury that overstated her role. Those quotes have been removed,” said CNN.

Some of the quotes removed from the earlier article are “Up until recently, most travellers, and even some locals, had no inkling of the aquatic mammals that occupy or pass through Kenya’s waters.”

CNN irks Kenyans again with “The Woman who found whales in Kenya” report

Another one was, “We literally came from a point of zero information and zero awareness, it seems ridiculous to imagine that nobody knew that the dolphins or whales existed here”.

She said: “We were amazed because no one knew there were dolphins out there, not even the Kenya Wildlife Service”.

Spilsbury says she learned about humpback whales in a similar casual way.

“It was as simple as talking to a fisherman at the bar and asking if he’d seen any humpback whales and he said ‘sure, we’ve seen them for 30 years’,” she says.

But according to Turtle Bay Beach Club in Watamu, Kilifi, humpback whales, travel annually in their thousands from the Antarctic to Kenya to breed and have their calves “in our safe tropical waters”.

Both migrations peak between July and September, which means that Kenya hosts the “Twin Migration”, a unique wildlife phenomenon, incorporating both savannah and sea safaris.

This is not the first time CNN has angered Kenyans. In 2015, Kenyans on Twitter roasted the broadcaster for a report on President Barack Obama’s visit to the country, in which they said he was heading to a “TERROR HOTBED”.