Marine biologists have welcomed the Tamil Nadu government’s recent decision to go ahead with the establishment of a conservation reserve for the elusive dugong. Dugong conservation reserve would be established in the Gulf of Mannar, Palk Bay between India and Sri Lanka.

Today Current Affairs


  • The dugong is a marine mammal. It is one of four living species of the order Sirenia, which also includes three species of manatees. It is the only living representative of the once-diverse family Dugongidae; its closest modern relative, Steller’s sea cow, was hunted to extinction in the 18th century.
  • In an interesting incident, Christopher Colombus mistook them as sea mermaids.
  • It is a herbivorous mammal. 
  • They live in groups, grazing on seagrass and coming to the surface to breathe.
  • LifeSpan: 70 Years or more
  • They are found in over 30 countries. (Not endemic to India)
  • In India, they are seen in the Gulf of Mannar, Gulf of Kutch, Palk Bay, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • Australia has the highest Dugong population due to coral reefs.



Conservation Status: The Hindu Analysis

  • IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Vulnerable 
  • CITES Appendix I
  • Wildlife Protection Act: Schedule 1
  • Dugong and Seagrass GrassConservation Project: By Global Economic Facility & UNEP for eight nations in the Indo-Pacific excluding India.
  • MoUs by UNEP & Conservation of Migratory Species.

Threats: The Hindu Analysis

  • The loss of seagrass habitats
  • Water pollution
  • Degradation of the coastal ecosystem due to developmental activities. 
  • Accidental entanglement in fishing nets and collision with boats, trawlers.
  • Poached for meat

Issues associated : The Hindu Analysis

  • Verge of extinction: It is definitely a late step because dugongs are on the verge of extinction.
  • In the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, their population is less than 100.There are very few left in the Gulf of Mannar and In the Gulf of Kutch, there are very few sporadic records.
  • In the case of marine reserves, the sea is a type of commons.And coastal communities are highly dependent on it.By designating a protected marine area, we are literally denying the resources to such people
  • The main cause of mortality for dugongs is accidental entanglement.They are marine mammals and have to surface every four minutes to breathe.Fishermen use gill nets and dugongs get trapped and killed in them unintentionally.
  • Very few people have been arrested, imprisoned or prosecuted for poaching dugongs.The enforcement of the law needs to be strengthened if you want to conserve the species.


  • The proposed conservation area has the highest concentration of dugongs in the country.
  • We have already declared dugongs as a Schedule I animal under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.Legally, it is given the highest protection.
  • Declaring an area as ‘protected’ means there will be no human interference there.There may be some tribal communities dependent on non-timber forest produce.

 Way Forward

  • Massive awareness is needed about the dugong as very few people know about them even in the Andamans where they are the state animal.
  • This could be done through incentive programmes: For instance, if a dugong gets captured and is released by fishermen, they get Rs 5,000 if they provide photo documentation of the act.
  • Fishing communities should also decide to shift to other sources of food rather than hunt dugongs for meat if they want their future generations to see dugongs.
  • The next step in dugong conservation is the preservation of the threatened seagrass ecosystem.Ultimately, if there is no seagrass, dugongs will perish.

Here we mention all information about DUGONG CONSERVATION RESERVE – Today Current Affairs.

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