13 August :An MoU for conservation and management of Dugongs (Dugong dugon) and their habitats under the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) was signed during May, 2008. The Agreement is designed to facilitate national level and trans-boundary actions to conserve dugong populations and their habitats of the Indian Ocean and South East Asia.
The dugong has been hunted for thousands of years, often for its meat and oil, although dugong hunting also has great cultural significance throughout its range. The dugong’s current distribution is reduced and disjunct, and many populations are close to extinction. The main causes of population decline remain anthropogenic, and include hunting, habitat degradation, and fishing-related fatalities.
The Dugong, sea cow, is listed as Vulnerable (VU), considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild, on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is a large marine mammal which, together with the manatees, is one of four living species of the order Sirenia. It is the only living representative of the once-diverse family Dugongidae; its closest modern relative, Steller’s Sea Cow (Hydrodamalis gigas) was hunted to extinction in the 18th century. It is also the only sirenian in its range, which spans the waters of at least 37 countries throughout the Indo-Pacific, though the majority of dugongs live in the northern waters of Australia between Shark Bay and Moreton Bay. In addition, the dugong is the only strictly-marine herbivorous mammal, as all species of manatee utilize fresh water to some degree.
The dugong has a fusiform body with no dorsal fin or hindlimbs, instead possessing paddle-like forelimbs used to maneuver itself. It posess fluked, dolphin-like tail and its skull and teeth are unique. It is heavily dependent on seagrasses for subsistence and is thus restricted to the coastal habitats where they grow, with the largest dugong concentrations typically occurring in wide, shallow, protected areas such as bays, mangrove channels and the lee sides of large inshore islands. Its snout is sharply downturned, an adaptation for grazing and uprooting benthic seagrasses. During the winter, a few herds of dugongs will move to warmer places in the northern countries, such as bays and canals. Dugongs also live in warmer waters of many other countries near the equator.Gestation in the Dugong lasts around 13 months, and results in the birth of a single young. The calf is not fully weaned for a further two years, and does not become sexually mature until the age of 8-18, longer than in most other mammals. As a result, despite the longevity of the Dugong, which may live for fifty years or more, females give birth only a few times during their life, and invest considerable parental care in their young.
The IUCN lists the dugong as a species vulnerable to extinction, while the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species limits or bans the trade of derived products based on the population involved. Despite being legally protected in many countries throughout their range, With its long lifespan and slow rate of reproduction, the dugong is especially vulnerable to these types of exploitation. In addition, dugongs are threatened by storms, parasites, and their natural predators, sharks, killer whales, and crocodiles.
The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (also known as CMS or Bonn Convention) aims to conserve terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their range. CMS Parties strive towards strictly protecting these animals, conserving or restoring the places where they live, mitigating obstacles to migration and controlling other factors that might endanger them. Besides establishing obligations for each State joining the Convention, CMS promotes concerted action among the Range States of many of these species to conclude global or regional Agreements.Several Agreements and 14 Memoranda of Understanding (MoU ) have been concluded to date under the auspices of CMS.
It is an intergovernmental treaty, concluded under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme, concerned with the conservation of wildlife and habitats on a global scale. Since the Convention’s entry into force, it has 108 members (as of 1March 2008).
In this respect, CMS acts as a framework Convention. The Agreements may range from legally binding treaties (called Agreements) to less formal instruments, such as Memoranda of Understanding, and can be adapted to the requirements of particular regions. The development of models tailored according to the conservation needs throughout the migratory range is a unique capacity to CMS.