TN govt to set up Dugong conservation reserve in Palk Bay

TE Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on September 04, 2021

Reserve to cover an area of over 500 sq km

The Tamil Nadu government plans to set up India’s first Dugong Conservation Reserve in the Palk Bay.

Dugong, commonly known as sea cows, survive on seagrass that is found in the area. The reserve will cover over 500 sq km, said Supriya Sahu, Principal Secretary Environment & Forests, Government of Tamil Nadu, in a tweet.

According to the Wildlife Institute of India, Dugongs are protected in India and found in Gulf of Mannar, Palk Bay; Gulf of Kutch and Andaman and Nicobar islands. Once abundant in Indian waters, Dugong’s population has now reduced to about 200 individuals and is believed to be continuously declining in its number and range. A task force was also constituted on conserving the endangered marine species.

Incidentally, in 2019, the Wildlife Institute of India sent a proposal to the Tamil Nadu Forest Department to declare the 400 sq km stretch of Palk Bay as a Conservation Reserve for Dugongs. This proposal must be accepted and the stretch from Adirampattinam to Ammapattinam should be declared as a Dugong Conservation Reserve, said a petition filed by K Pushpavanam from Madurai, a law student and nature lover in the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court in July 2020.

In 2017, the GEF Dugong and Seagrass Conservation Project focussed on the northwest of Sri Lanka, namely the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay. The area includes the largest of Sri Lanka’s Marine Protected Areas – the Bar Reef MPA, west of the Kalpitiya peninsula in the vicinity of Puttalam lagoon – which covers approximately 310 sq km, according to information in public domain.

“In a unique and pioneering initiative, the government will set up a Marine Elite Force in the State to combat marine wildlife crime, including smuggling & poaching of marine animals including conservation. Tamil Nadu Assembly budget announcement,” Sahu said in another tweet.

Published on September 03, 2021

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