Dugong Conservation in Sri Lanka 2015

July 01, 2015

The Dugong dugon is a protected marine mammal under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance of Sri Lanka. The habitat of the dugong is not protected. Seagrass meadows are not protected in Sri Lanka. The major seagrass areas in the country are located in the northwestern coastal waters from the Puttalam Lagoon up to the Jaffna Peninsula. Although a live dugong has not been sighted by scientists in the recent past, several dugongs have been killed by fishermen. In the month of October in 2015 two animals were killed. Fishermen informed that a carcass was found on Iranativu Island in the Palk Bay in October 2015. The cause of death was not known.

In 2010 a pair of large dugongs were killed, presumably using explosives used to catch fish at a location in the Palk Bay north of Mannar Island. The sound of dynamite explosions was heard during a visit to islands in the Palk Bay to survey coral reefs. This clearly indicate that the use of explosives to catch fish is rampant despite this being an illegal form of fishing.

Dugongs have been killed in Sri Lanka from time to time because there is a market for its flesh. However, as this species is protected by law the trade does not take place in open markets. It is supplied to customers through a special network of operators.

The Dugong and Seagrass Conservation project aims to involve the communities through awareness and education in the conservation of the dugong and its habitat โ€“ the seagrass meadows. The project aims to establish community conservation groups at several locations along the northwestern and northern coastal areas and declare new protected areas with seagrass meadows.

Sri Lanka IUCN