Decapitated dugong washes up on beach in southern Thailand

Photo via CH8

A decapitated dugong with wounds all over its body washed up on a beach on Koh Sriboya island in Krabi province in southern Thailand yesterday. It’s a tragic event considering that dugongs are protected by Thai law and there are only an estimated 200 of them left in Thailand’s waters.

The carcass of a 2-metre-long male dugong weighing no less than 100 kilogrammes washed up onto Lang Ko Beach, reports CH8. A knife was used to cut its head off, officials said.

Yongyut Fangkwa, the Chief of Village 7, said the dugong was likely caught in a fisherman’s net and died. Once discovered, the fisherman perhaps chopped off its head to free its body from the net.

Although, it is possible that someone deliberately decapitated the dugong for its tusks, which are believed to be auspicious by some people and can be sold for a high price, said Yongyut.

The village chief said he doesn’t know how much dugong tusks sell for because everyone on the island works hard to conserve both dugongs and the seagrass, which is a dugong’s main source of food. This act was not committed by local people, he stressed.

Today, a team from a rare species research centre in Trang province will travel to the island to collect evidence and begin their investigation.

Dugongs are gentle animals also known as “sea cows,” and are known as manatee’s little cousins, being slightly smaller. Dugongs are listed as vulnerable to extinction on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species.

In Thailand, sea cows are found in six Andaman Coast provinces and few are found in the Gulf of Thailand. Dugong populations spanning some 40 countries through the Indo-West Pacific continue to dwindle, as the animal faces challenges such as being hunted, being hit by boats, and habitat loss.

In November, a fisherman found a dead male dugong weighing around 100 kilogrammes on the beach, also in Krabi province.

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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