Featured Image Credit: The National
By Sarah Sharkey
The dugong population of India is struggling to remain afloat as pressures from many different burdens are bearing down on them. The fragile population of remaining dugongs in India is concentrated in the Gulf of Mannar, and the Gulf of Kutch.
Currently, there are less than 200 of these animals living in Indian water. The situation looks desperate, but researchers are looking to the sky for answers. Specifically, by creating a drone program that will help to find, track and look out for the remaining dugongs in the area.
Research scientists and dugong expert for the Wildlife Institute of Dr. Kivakumar, had this to say about the perilous situation, “With a population of 100, the Gulf of Mannar has the highest number of dugongs. The Andaman & Nicobar Islands follow with 50-60 of them, while the Gulf of Kutch, where a live dugong has not been seen in the last 7-8 years, might have as few as 10 individuals.”
It is hoped that with the 6 drones being imported from New Zealand, the new tool will allow scientists to better understand where the dugongs are right now and how they move around. This information may be critical to understanding more about this vital species that contribute to the health of seagrass in the area. With this new knowledge, scientists will be better able to protect this critically endangered species.
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