Tamil Nadu to set up India’s first Dugong Conservation Reserve

Government of Tamil Nadu recently announced its plan to set up India’s first Dugong Conservation Reserve in the Palk Bay on the southeast coast.

Highlights

  • Dugong or sea cow is an endangered marine mammal. It is facing extinction because of habitat loss, sea pollution, and loss of seagrass.
  • Dugong is found in Gulf of Mannar and at Palk Bay in Tamil Nadu.
  • Gulf of Mannar is a shallow bay area between south eastern end of Tamil Nadu and western Sri Lanka.
  • With the help of community participation, Government will also construct a Dugong Marine Conservation Reserve in the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay area to protect the species.
  • Marine Conservation Reserve will be established over an area of 500km in Palk Bay.
  • It is believed that, an estimated 200 individuals live in the Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar area which would largely benefit from Tamil Nadu government’s recent decision to establish conservation reserve.

About Dugong

Dugong is a sea mammal and is the only living species of the order Sirenia. The mammal is restricted to coastal habitat because of seagrass, which is a major part of its diet. They have a distinct dolphin-like tail, different skull form and teeth pattern. Its closest relative is Steller’s Sea cow, which got extinction in eighteenth century. The IUCN has listed dugong as a “vulnerable to extinction species”. On the other hand, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species has limited or banned the trade of derived products.

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