GRAZING THROUGH EXTINCTION -ARE DUGONGS NEXT ON THE LIST?

“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.” - Gary Snyder


As the discussions are carried out on the ongoing pandemic and status of lockdown across

the globe, the home of a very well-known marine mammal is being contaminated and

disrupted as we speak. There is one threatened endangered species out there, silently

grazing the seagrass meadows. Yes, we are talking about Dugong dugon i.e. dugongs, also

largely known as “sea cows.”

These medium-sized marine mammal herbivores play a vital role in battling climate

change. Their day-to-day activities have an immediate effect on other aquatic beings which

ought to be appreciated as well as acknowledged. The seagrass meadows and oceans are

being adversely affected by increasing human activities and industrial pollutants. The

population depletion of dugongs is escalating at a rate never expected before, as proposed

by researchers in the field based on a study done at Nelson Mandela University in South

Africa. One of the research techniques majorly used in the hindsight to study dugongs is

Phylogeography, a ‘field of study that attempts to tease apart relationships among

individual genotypes within a species or within a group of very closely related species and

correlate those relationships with their spatial distribution’ according to science direct.

One of the renowned researchers Dr. Stephanie Plön extensively emphasized the gene pool

depletion of dugongs due to their rapid decline.


The Time Is Ticking

The mighty ocean which is indeed glamourized by us is facing a tremendous amount of

pain because of overexploitation. Every oceanic cycle concerning aquatic life is also

directly affected leading to the extinction of species. Species that have no direct role to

play in a human’s day-to-day activity but are indirectly connected in ways that are

unspoken about.

Our days are irreversible, so are our actions. As we read this, there is at least one dugong

being exploited for its meat and oil which is eventually marketed across the globe.

These magnificent creatures weighing over 800 pounds is 10 feet in length harmless

herbivores are still mowing the meadows in the ocean bed. Unaware of their threat to life,

silently grazing with every passing day.

With researchers still vigorously working on solutions to protect them in the future,

organizations and many wildlife enthusiasts have buckled up their saddles in order to

bring them back on the safer side of the IUCN list.


Let us move forward with such a renowned mindset, let us be the voices of the voiceless who are unable to stand up for themselves.


I do have hope. Nature is enormously resilient, humans are vastly intelligent, the energy and enthusiasm that can be kindled among young people seem without limit, and the human spirit is indomitable. But if we want life, we will have to stop depending on someone else to save the world. It is up to us-you and me, all of us. Myself, I have placed my faith in the children.”

- Jane Goodall

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