India’s first dugong conservation reserve

  • IASbaba
  • September 10, 2021
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India’s first dugong conservation reserve

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- III –  Environment

Context The Government of Tamil Nadu will set up India’s first Dugong Conservation Reserve in the Palk Bay Dugong.

About the Conservation Reserve

  • The Conservation Reserve will cover an area of 500kms.
  • The proposed conservation area has the highest concentration of dugongs in the country.
  • The reserve will span the northern part of the Palk Bay from Adirampattinam to Amapattinam.
  • AS part of the CAMPA-Dugong Recovery Project, various surveys were conducted in the Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar, from November 2016 to March 2019.
  • Gulf of Mannar is a shallow bay area between the south eastern end of Tamil Nadu and western Sri Lanka.

About Dugongs

  • The dugong , also called the sea cow, is a herbivorous mammal. 
  • It is the only living representative of the once-diverse family Dugongidae.
  • The dugong is strictly a marine mammal.
  • They graze on seagrass and come to the surface to breathe.
  • 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.
  • According to Wildlife Institute of India (WII) estimates, only 200-250 Dugongs are left in the wild, of which 150 are found in the Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar in Tamil Nadu.
  • Threats: 
    • The loss of seagrass habitats
    • water pollution
    • degradation of the coastal ecosystem due to developmental activities
    • accidental entanglement in fishing nets 
    • collision with boats, trawlers.
  • Conservation status
    • IUCN- Vulnerable
    • CITES: Appendix I
    • Wild (Life) Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I
  • The Government of India is also a signatory to the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) since 1983 where it has signed non-legally binding Memorandums of Understanding on the conservation and management of Siberian Cranes (1998), Marine Turtles (2007), Dugongs (2008) and Raptors (2016). 
  • Proper conservation is the only way to save dugongs from extinction.

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