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Dugong Conservation Reserve

India’s First Conservation Reserve For The Dugong In Gulf Of Mannar, Palk Bay:

The Tamil Nadu government has decided to go ahead with the establishment of India’s first conservation reserve for the Dugong in Gulf of Mannar, Palk Bay.

  • It facilitates India to act as the leading nation in the South Asia Sub-region with respect to dugong conservation.
  • Dugong (Dugong dugon) also called ‘Sea Cow’ is one of the four surviving species in the Order Sirenia and it is the only existing species of herbivorous mammal that lives exclusively in the sea including in India.
  • Dugongs are an important part of the marine ecosystem and their depletion will have effects all the way up the food chain.
  • They are found in over 30 countries and in India are seen in the Gulf of Mannar, Gulf of Kutch, Palk Bay, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • Conservation Status:
    • IUCN Red List status: Vulnerable
    • Wild (Life) Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I
    • CITES: Appendix I
  • Dugongs graze on seagrass and the loss of seagrass beds due to ocean floor trawling is one of the most important factors behind decreasing dugong populations in many parts of the world.
  • Trawling is a method of fishing that involves pulling a fishing net through the water behind one or more boats.
  • It is harmful to the environment because it damages the seafloor, coral reefs and other marine animals
  • Human activities such as the destruction and modification of habitat, pollution, rampant illegal fishing activities, vessel strikes, unsustainable hunting or poaching and unplanned tourism are the main threats to dugongs.
  • Dugong meat is consumed under the wrong impression that it cools down human body temperature.