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11 September – INDIA TO HOST G 20 SUMMIT IN 2023

In India, dugongs are seen in the Gulf of Mannar, Gulf of Kutch, Palk Bay, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

DUGONGS

• The dugong (Dugong dugon), also called the sea cow, is a herbivorous mammal.
• They can grow upto three meters long, weigh about 300 kilograms, and live for about 65 to 70 years, grazing on seagrass and coming 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.
• Dugongs are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
• Internationally, dugongs are listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which prohibits the trade of the species and its parts.

The loss of seagrass habitats, water pollution and degradation of the coastal ecosystem due to developmental activities have made life tough for these slow-moving animals.

Dugongs are also victims of accidental entanglement in fishing nets and collision with boats, trawlers.

INDIA’S FIRST DUGONG CONSERVATION RESERVE

The Tamil Nadu State government has announced that a 500-sqkm dugong conservation reserve will soon be set up in the Palk Bay.

There are about 150 to 200 dugongs in the area. The proposed conservation area has the highest concentration of dugongs in the country.

Banning trawling and gill nets in the area would be the way forward. The local communities can continue their fishing activities in the traditional way.

Awareness programmes are being conducted for fishing communities in the Ramanathapuram, Pudukkottai districts of Tamil Nadu.

Small appreciation awards have been given to fishermen who release dugongs that are accidentally caught.

The fisheries and forest departments work together to conduct regular patrols and inspections in the region.

Though dugongs used to be previously poached for meat, now with awareness, this has completely stopped.

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