Attempted Rescue of Stranded Dugong Demonstrates Community Commitment to Conservation in Bazaruto, Mozambique

January 21, 2019

Yesterday, our project partners in Mozambique (MZ2) were notified by community members in Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipelago National Park that a dugong had washed ashore and it was still alive. Our partners dispatched their rangers to the scene who assisted the stranded dugong. The dugong, much to the initial relief of the rangers, is seen in the video swimming away.

Watch the scene unfold in the video below:

Unfortunately, a short while later the dugong washed ashore again; however this time it was no longer alive. Dugongs don’t wash ashore accidentally and falling tides dont normally catch a dugong off guard. Dugongs wash ashore because they are experiencing difficulty – illness, disease, trauma, age, etc. There wasn’t much a ranger could do.

While it breaks our heart to learn of the death of even a single dugong, the community’s reaction fills our hearts with hope for the surviving dugongs of Bazaruto.

The community responded to the stranding by notifying our project representatives. The community members knew a dugong stranding was cause for concern and they knew who to contact after finding the dugong on the beach.

It is also reassuring that community rangers were available to respond to the community’s call.

After the dugong was assisted back to sea by the rangers, the rangers reached out to their national network of dugong specialists. The Dugong and Seagrass Conservation Project has established a network of dugong specialists who are able to support community conservation efforts. Not only is the network available for consultation on dugong strandings, but they also assist communities in dugong and seagrass conservation efforts including population monitoring and surveys, community outreach, and techniques for sustainable fishing practices.

The dugong rangers have now managed to secure refrigerated storage to preserve the dugong until a specialist can arrive on scene to collect DNA samples and perform an educational/instructional necropsy to train the rangers for the eventuality of future dugong strandings.

In the end, the death of this dugong is symbolic of the collective impact of the GEF Dugong and Seagrass Conservation Project on a remote community that is home to one of the last few surviving dugong populations along the east coast of Africa.

Our hearts are filled with hope for the dugong of Bazaruto Archipelago National Park and the community of conservationists who are ensuring dugong continue to swim in these waters for many generations to come.