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Where have all the Dugongs gone?

Wednesday 2nd June 2010

Projects Abroad starts a new marine mammal conservation volunteer project in Mozambique

The Dugong, a large marine mammal, has been hunted for thousands of years for the use of its meat and for oil. The Dugong as a species is vulnerable to extinction and is now referred to as one of the rarest mammals on earth.

Although the hunting of Dugongs is strictly prohibited the degradation of their feeding habitat and fishing related fatalities see their numbers continue to drop. The Dugong has a lifespan of over 70 years and with a slow rate of reproduction, it is especially vulnerable to a loss in numbers.

Projects Abroad’s new project is based in the town of Vilanculos on the south-eastern coast of Mozambique.  This is one of the last remaining footholds of the Dugong.  Volunteers will be working with the community to address problems of over fishing and dredging of the sea bed which destroys the sea grasses in shallow water which the Dugongs feed on.

Volunteers will be snorkelling to collect sea grass for re-plantation in designated protected breeding sites as well as transecting areas of the sea on overnight boat trips, mapping locations with GPS on fact finding projects. Volunteers will also be working on projects to address the problem of over fishing by creating artificial breeding sites as well as taking part in turtle, dolphin, whale shark and manta ray surveys.

This project is very exciting for the volunteers and very worthwhile.
"When we started with our African Plains Project based in Botswana we heard about the Dugong Project in Mozambique. I am excited to be able to send volunteers to Mozambique as this project has the potential for something really special" Stuart Timson, Conservation specialist for Projects Abroad.