Chennai, Feb 24 (BPNS)
Tamil Nadu state government has commenced work for the country’s first Dugong conservation reserve in the Palk Bay region. Dugongs are endangered species that are protected under Schedule 1 of the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972. The Wild Life Institute (WII) in a study reported that only 200-250 Dugongs are left in the wild of which 150 are found in the Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar in Tamil Nadu.
The Wild Life Institute of India said that the area was being used as a breeding ground and therefore identified as the critical habitat.
The state government has already extended financial support to prepare a detailed project report (DPR). State forest and environment department have already directed the Tamil Nadu Chief Wild Life Warden, Shekar Kumar Neeraj to send the draft notification of the proposal to obtain the concurrence of the Union environment ministry.
The size of the Dugong reserve will be tentatively spread over 500 sq km and will be located in the Northern part of the Palk of Bay from Adiramapattinam to Amapattinam.
According to information from the Tamil Nadu State forest department, the cost of establishing a reserve for the first five years would be Rs 5 crore. The idea, according to the state forest department plans are afloat to build an international convention centre and enhance seagrass beds under the Climate Change Mission.
A dugong and calf were first sighted in Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar in 2018. Six dugongs were rescued and released back to sea and 11 had died.
In India dugongs are found in Palk Bay, Gulf of Mannar (TN), Gulf of Kutch (Gujarat), and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. However, the presence of dugongs is maximum in Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar. Dugongs are generally found in shallow waters at the depth of 10 m but occasionally they dive to 39 m for feeding seagrass.