India’s first Dugong Sanctuary to be set up in Tamil Nadu- What are Dugongs?

Dugong is a sea cow, which is an endangered marine mammal that is facing extinction due to water pollution, habitat loss and loss of seagrass. 

Created On: Sep 6, 2021 18:07 IST
Tamil Nadu to set up India’s first Sea Cow Conservation Reserve
Tamil Nadu to set up India’s first Sea Cow Conservation Reserve

The Tamil Nadu government announced on September 3, 2021 that it plans to set up India's first Dugong Conservation Reserve in the Palk Bay on the southeast coast of the state.

Tamil Nadu Environment Secretary Supriya Sahu confirmed the same through a tweet that said, "Government of Tamil Nadu will set up India's first Dugong Conservation Reserve in the Palk BayDugong or the sea cow is an endangered marine species & survives on seagrass that is found in the area.The conserve will cover an area of 500 Km."

What is a Dugong?

Dugong is a sea cow, which is an endangered marine mammal that is facing extinction due to water pollution, habitat loss and loss of seagrass. 

What is the natural habitat of Dugong in India?

Dugong is generally found in two places in Tamil Nadu-

Gulf of Mannar- A shallow bay area between the south-eastern tip of Tamil Nadu and the western part of Sri Lanka

Palk Bay- A semi-enclosed shallow area in the same region.

Tamil Nadu government's initiatives to protect forests, wildlife & marine life

The Tamil Nadu Government has made several announcements during its ongoing assembly session related to the measures that will be taken in the state to protect its wildlife, forests and marine life. 

Some of the major initiatives taken by the state include- 

1. Establishment of a Sea Cow sanctuary

The Sea Cow sanctuary will be India's first and it would be set up in the Marine regions including Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar. The sanctuary is being set up to protect endangered and rare species. The species is endangered due to the destruction and depletion of its, which includes ocean surface weeds and seagrass, weeds. The new sanctuary will comprise feed spanning up to almost 500kms.

2. Establishment of another Elephant sanctuary

The elephant sanctuary has been proposed to be established in Agasthyamalai range of Southern Tamil Nadu to help in the preservation and conservation of elephants. The sanctuary will aim to conserve elephant habitats in districts such as Kanyakumari, Tenkasi and Tirunelveli. The elephant sanctuary will be set up in addition to the existing four Elephant Sanctuaries in Nilgiris, Coimbatore, Srivilluputtur and Anaimalai.

3. Establishment of medical facilities for Emergency Critical care and rehabilitation of wildlife

Districts of Trichy, Tirunelveli and Coimbatore were chosen for the development of facilities that would provide emergency care and rehabilitation for Wildlife. 

The state government has also proposed to consult experts and take action regarding eliminating alien and invasive plant species that are detrimental to local vegetation and forests. The state would be allocating Rs10 crore as funds for providing compensation for damages caused by wildlife on life and property.

4. Stricter enforcement to prevent wildlife crimes

The state government plans to train and deploy native breeds of sniffer dogs to track wildlife crimes. The state's environment ministry has also announced the formation of a specially-trained Marine Elite Force to prevent maritime wildlife crimes and smuggling.

All you need to know about Dugongs

•The dugong is a sea mammal that is herbivorous and primarily feeds on seagrasses and spends most of its time in seagrass beds. 

•Dugong's have very small brain in comparison to their body size and have a distinct dolphin-like tail. 

•The dugong never enters freshwater and is, therefore, the only exclusively herbivorous marine mammal. 

•The closest relative of the species was the Steller's Sea cow, which was hunted to extinction in the eighteenth century.

•Presently, around 200 Dugongs are believed to inhabit the Marine regions of Tamil Nadu. 

 

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