Dugong conservation reserve

• India’s first Dugong conservation reserve will be built in Tamil Nadu for the conservation of Dugong, a marine animal that has been enlisted vulnerable to extinction on a global scale by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).

About:

• 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 or the sea cow is the State animal of Andaman and 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 and Nicobar Islands.

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Mains Paper 3: Environment

Prelims level: Dugong conservation reserve

Mains level: Key highlights about the species and its conservation status

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