From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Dugong
Mains level : Not Much
India’s first Dugong conservation reserve will be built in Tamil Nadu for the conservation of Dugong, a marine mammal.
Try answering this PYQ:
With reference to ‘dugong’, a mammal found in India, which of the following statements is/are correct?
- It is a herbivorous marine animal.
- It is found along the entire coast of India.
- It is given legal protection under Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1974.
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 3 only
Post your answers here.
Dugong Conservation Reserve
- The reserve will spread over an area of 500 km in Palk Bay on the southeast coast of Tamil Nadu.
- Palk Bay is a semi-enclosed shallow water body with a water depth maximum of 13 meters.
- Located between India and Sri Lanka along the Tamil Nadu coast, the dugong is a flagship species in the region.
Dugong: The sea cow
- Dugong or the sea cow is the State animal of Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
- This endangered marine species survive on seagrass and other aquatic vegetation found in the area.
- It is the only herbivorous mammal that is strictly marine and is the only extant species in the family Dugongidae.
- Dugongs are usually about three-meter long and weigh about 400 kg.
- Dugongs have an expanded head and trunk-like upper lip.
- Elephants are considered to be their closest relatives. However, unlike dolphins and other cetaceans, sea cows have two nostrils and no dorsal fin.
- Distributed in shallow tropical waters in the Indo-Pacific region, in India, they are found in the Gulf of Kutch, Gulf of Mannar, Palk Bay, and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
- Dugongs are long-living animals, that have a low reproductive rate, long generation time, and high investment in each offspring.
- The female dugongs do not bear their first calf until they are at least 10 and up to 17 years old.
- A dugong population is unlikely to increase more than 5% per year. They take a long time to recover due to the slow breeding rate.
Causes of extinction
- Having being declared vulnerable, the marine animal calls for conserving efforts.
- Studies have suggested the reasons for the extinction of the animal such as slow breeding rate, fishing, and the loss of habitat.
- They are also known to suffer due to accidental entanglement and drowning in gill-nets.
Conservation in India
- The conservation reserve can promote growth and save vulnerable species from the verge of extinction.
- Dugongs are protected in India under Schedule 1 of the Indian Wildlife Act 1972 which bans the killing and purchasing of dugong meat.
- IUCN status: Vulnerable