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Dr. Thon pleads for dugong conservation plan

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Dr. Thon pleads for dugong conservation plan | The Thaiger
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PHOTO: SCMP

Thailand’s leading marine biologist is urging the Thai government to speed up conservation plans for the dugong, an imperiled sea mammal, aka. sea cow, after their death toll for the year in southern Thai waters has already climbed to a record 21.

Dr. Thon Thamrongnawasawat says that the carcass of another deceased dugong was found this week off the coast of Krabi in southern Thailand. The young female appears to have drowned after being caught in a fishing net, a common threat to sea animals.

Thon, who has served on a government environment and development committee, says a three year master plan for dugong conservation awaits approval by the Thai cabinet.

“We have lost too much this year, I have hope we can get what we ask for and will be able to start the program soon.”

Fishing boats often discard old nets overboard or simply get them caught whilst fishing and leave them to cause a hazard for marine life. Marine biologists now estimate there are only 250 dugongs remaining in Thai waters.

Thon’s plan is called the “Mariam Project” named after a rescued baby dugong who became celebrated in Thailand after images of veterinarians embracing and feeding her with milk and seagrass spread across social media.

She died two months ago despite the intensive care, and her demise is said to be due to shock – he was thought to have been chased and attacked by a larger male dugong during mating season, and ingesting plastic waste. A large amount of plastic waste was found in her intestine, which led to gastritis and blood infection.

Dugongs are a species of marine mammal similar to a manatee and can grow to over 3 metres in length. They are listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and are protected under Thai law.

SOURCE: AP | Thai PBS

Dr. Thon pleads for dugong conservation plan | News by The ThaigerPHOTO: Department of Marine and Coastal Resources

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