DUGONG CONSERVATION

WWW.DUGONGS.ORG
SAVING ENDANGERED DUGONGS OF THE WESTERN INDIAN OCEAN

WORLD-WIDE ABUNDANCE ESTIMATION & DISTRIBUTION OF DUGONGS
Dugongs (Dugong dugon) range in nearshore tropical and subtropical coastal and island waters of the Indo-Pacific between southern Mozambique in the west and Vanuatu to Japan in the east. This distribution covers an estimated 140 000 km of coastline, between approximately 27 degrees north and south of the equator, with water temperatures of less than about 18°C possibly limiting this range. Population estimates have been made in three areas, Australia; the eastern Red Sea; and the Arabian Gulf. While the status of the dugong over a large proportion of its range remains unknown, particularly within the Western Indian Ocean, dugongs are believed to be declining or extinct across a third of their range.
DUGONGS OF THE WESTERN INDIAN OCEAN
Historically dugongs ranged in the Western Indian ocean from Somalia in the north, through Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique and off the islands of the Comoros, Seychelles, Madagascar and Mauritius. Current information on dugongs in the Western Indian Ocean is sparse. However, most populations in the region appear to have suffered a decline since the 1960s and distribution now appears to be limited Kenya (where small populations still persist off the Lamu-Kiunga coast and at Gazi in the south near the Tanzanian border); Tanzania, in the region of the Rufiji Delta and Mafia Island; Madagascar (where the most important dugong areas are the islets of Andavadoaka - Morombe; at Ambararata – Courrier and Diego Bay; the bays and estuaries of Sakoany - Bombetoka; Ambavarano - Vohémar; and Sainte-Marie Island); the Seychelles (Aldabra Atoll - 3 dugongs); Mayotte (5-7 dugongs) and Mozambique. Dugongs possibly still occur in the Comoros (at Moheli Island) and off the Somalia coast, although their current distribution is unknown. Dugongs appear to have become extinct from Mauritius and the Maldives. Although dugongs are protected across the range of all the Western Indian Ocean states, enforcement and consequent protection is currently limited by both capacity and resources.
MOZAMBIQUE AND THE BAZARUTO DUGONGS
Surveys in the late 1960's suggested that dugongs were common along the Mozambique coastline from Maputo Bay, Chidenguele, Inhambane Bay, Bazaruto Bay, Mozambique Island and Pemba Bay and the Quirimbas Archipelago. However, both their status and distribution along the Mozambique coast are believed to have altered significantly since then. Dugong herd sizes of eight to ten individuals were reported for Inhaca Island in 1992, although this area is now thought to support only 2 or 3 individuals. Two individuals were sighted in Maputo Bay in 2007 and four individuals were sighted in 2008. Two (possibly three) individuals possibly were netted by fisherman in 2010. While dugongs were observed throughout Inhambane Bay in October 1994, no animals were recorded during a survey over this bay in 2007. The Bazaruto Archipelago region is reported to support the largest dugong population along the east African coast, and although there were suggestions that the population was declining rapidly, recent surveys suggest about 300 individuals. Only one dugong was recorded in aerial surveys of the Pemba to Mtwara region of northern Mozambique in 2007, and an incidental sighting of a lone individual was made in 2009.

An increase in large mesh gill netting from 1976 onwards, along with a lack of law enforcement, seine netting, commercial trawl operations, palisade fish traps, habitat destruction of seagrass beds and increased anthropogenic disturbance all contibute as threats to dugong populations in Mozambique.

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