September 6, 2021.
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.
- 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.
- 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.