World Dugong Day 2020 

#GS3 #Environment #Conservation 

Marine mammal fighting for survival in Indian waters. Conservation only way to save species from extinction, says experts. 

  • The dugong, commonly known as the sea cow, is fighting for its survival in Indian waters and unless conserved, could one day become extinct, experts have said on the eve of ‘World Dugong Day’ on May 28, 2020.   
  • Dugongs are an endangered marine species like sea turtles, seahorses, sea cucumbers and others. They are protected in India under Schedule I of the Wild (Life) Protection Act, 1972. 
  • There were just 250 dugongs in the Gulf of Mannar in Tamil Nadu, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat according to the 2013 survey report of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI). 

Threats to dugongs 

  • Dugongs are mammals, which means they give birth to live young and then produce milk and nurse them. 
  • Once the female is pregnant, she will carry the unborn baby, called a foetus for 12-14 months before giving birth. Female dugongs give birth underwater to a single calf at three to seven-year intervals. 
  • Dugongs graze on seagrass, especially young shoots and roots in shallow coastal waters. They can consume up to 40 kilograms of seagrass in a day. 
  • Human activities such as the destruction and modification of habitat, pollution, rampant illegal fishing activities, vessel strikes, unsustainable hunting or poaching and unplanned tourism are the main threats to dugongs. 
  • The 13th Conference of Parties (CoP) of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), an environmental treaty under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme, was hosted by India from February 17-22, 2020 at Gandhinagar in Gujarat.  
  • The Government of India is a signatory to the CMS since 1983. India has signed non-legally binding Memorandums of Understanding with CMS on the conservation and management of Siberian Cranes (1998), Marine Turtles (2007), Dugongs (2008) and Raptors (2016) 
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