28 February 2022
Tamil Nadu government has begun work to set up the first Dugong Conservation Reserve of India in the Palk Bay region. Dugongs are endangered species and are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act’s, 1972 Schedule 1.
- Tamil Nadu’s Environment, Forests, and Climate Change Department accepted the concept note of Shekhar Kumar Niraj, the Chief Wildlife Warden, and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, for the Dugong Conservation Reserve’s creation.
- He was directed to send a draft notification to obtain the Union environment ministry’s approval.
- The size of the reserve will be spread over around 500 sq km and will be located in Palk Bay’s northern part from Adiramapattinam to Amapattinam.
- For the first 5 years, Rs 5 crore would be the initial cost for the reserve’s establishment.
- There are plans to build enhanced seagrass beds and an international conservation centre under the Climate Change Mission.
- The dugong is a sirenian species found along the Indian coast. Dugongs are related to manatees and have a similar plump appearance to them, but they have a tail that looks like a dolphin’s fluke.
- Unlike manatees, which live in freshwater, dugongs are purely marine mammals. Dugongs are also known as Sea Cows.
- They graze, on seagrass, in shallow coastal waters of the Indian and western Pacific Oceans.
The population of Dugong in India
- The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) states that only 200-250 dugongs are left, of which 150 are found in the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay.
- The dugong is on the verge of becoming extinct. The Dugong population of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is less than 100. In the Gulf of Mannar, there are only a few left.
- There are only a few sporadic records in the Gulf of Kutch. They were once common in Lakshadweep but are now extinct locally.
About Palk bay
- Palk Bay, a semi-enclosed shallow water body is located between the southeast coast of India and Sri Lanka and has a maximum water depth of 13 m.
- It is said to be one of the Gulf of Mannar’s major sinks for sediments.