Dugong or Sea Cow is a sea-grass eating mammal which is found in waters of as many as 37 countries. It is now on verge of extinction, because it has been hunted for meat and oil. In India also, its meat is considered to be aphrodisiac.
Maximum Population of Dugong is found in Red Sea, followed by the Persian Gulf.
Largest Dugong was as long as 13.5 ft and was found in Gulf of Katch in India. In India, they are found in Gulf of Kutch, the only population remaining in western India and Gulf of Mannar. The Gulf of Mannar Biosphere (GoMB) has the largest population of dugongs in India. They are also found near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
With fewer than 200 dugongs (commonly known as sea cow) in its waters, India is strongly encouraging its neighbours in South Asia to sign the Dugong United Nations Environment Programme/Convention of Migratory Species (UNEP/CMS) MoU as early as possible.
Currently classified as vulnerable to extinction under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the dugongs are vulnerable to human-related influences due to their life history and dependence on sea grasses that are restricted to coastal habitats under increased pressure from human activities.
Reasons for the decline in population are: sea grass habitat loss and degradation, gill netting, chemical pollutants, indigenous use and hunting.