National agenda will be prepared for dugong conservation in Thailand

PHOTO: Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa in Koh Libong, Trang, yesterday/Facebook

Speaking to reporters during a trip to Koh Libong in Trang yesterday, the new Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa said that Thailand should draft a national agenda for dugong conservation. He was visiting the ‘nursery’ of the the young dugong ‘Mariam’ saying that Thailand could become a leader in South East Asian dugong conservation.

He hoped for a national plan for conservation of dugongs to be drafted in collaboration with the Interior Ministry and local people. He said he didn’t know how long the drafting would take but that he personally attached great importance to the need to increase the dugong population.

“The ministry’s plan would increase the number of dugongs from 200 to 400.”

During his visit to the Duyong Bay where Mariam is being cared for and brought up by staff and veterinarians, Varawut was briefed on her rescue in Krabi and relocation to Koh Libong to benefit from the abundance of seagrass and the natural dugong environment.

Marine officials estimate that there are about 200 to 250 dugongs left in Thailand and claim that 89% of fatalities are caused by fishing boats and equipment. A further 10% died of illness and one% of “other causes”.

Officials said that once Mariam is grown up and strong she will have a microchip implanted and released to live with other dugongs in the area.

The minister was also briefed on measures for dugong conservation and told that dugongs in the Trang and Krabi seas actually belong to the same herd.

Varawut met with and expressed moral support for officials and teams of veterinarians from Chulalongkorn University and the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources , who have been nursing Mariam in the bay. The minister was informed that Mariam and another rescued baby dugong, Yamil, needed to be fed with milk costing about 100,000 baht a month.

SOURCE: The Nation

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