The Tamil Nadu government has begun work to establish India’s first Dugong Conservation Reserve in the Palk Bay region. Dugongs are an endangered species that is protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
The Environment, Forests, and Climate Change Department of Tamil Nadu approved Shekhar Kumar Niraj, the Chief Wildlife Warden and Principal Chief Conservator of Forestsconcept,’s note for the establishment of the Dugong Conservation Reserve.
He was told to submit a draught notification to the Union Environment Ministry for approval.
The reserve will be 500 square kilometers in size and will be located in Palk Bay’s northern part, from Adiramapattinam to Amapattinam.
The reserve’s establishment would cost Rs 5 crore for the first five years.
Under the Climate Change Mission, there are plans to construct enhanced seagrass beds and an international conservation center.
The dugong is a sirenians species that lives along the Indian coast. Dugongs are related to manatees and have a plump appearance, but they have a tail that resembles a dolphin’s fluke. Dugongs are marine mammals, as opposed to manatees, which live in freshwater. Dugongs are also referred to as Sea Cows. They graze on seagrass in the Indian and western Pacific Oceans’ shallow coastal waters.
According to the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), only 200-250 dugongs remain, with 150 of them found in the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay. The dugong is on the verge of extinction. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have a population of less than 100 dugongs. There are only a few left in the Gulf of Mannar. In the Gulf of Kutch, there are only a few sporadic records. They were once common in Lakshadweep but have since become extinct.
Palk Bay is a semi-enclosed shallow water body located between India’s southeast coast and Sri Lanka, with a maximum water depth of 13 metres. It is said to be a major sediment sink in the Gulf of Mannar.