Myanmar, of course, has dugongs. Believe it or not, Myanmar has more than 55 millions dugongs. Really? Yes, it's real.
In our Myanmar language, dugong means knee; Myanmar has more than 55 million people and everybody has two knees. Therefore, we have more than 55 million dugongs. It is a joke that I said at some dugong workshops.
A technical workshop and MoU for dugong conservation and management plan signing ceremony held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in October 2007 was a significant event in dugong conservation. Myanmar is one of the first signatory states of the Dugong MoU.
Dugong is protected by law in Myanmar. The law "Law Relating Conservation of Biodiversity and Protected Areas" was enacted on the 21st. May 2018. in accordance with the law, The Forest Department issued a notification on the 4th. March 2020 notifying a list of protected wildlife. Dugong has been listed in the "Completely Protected Wildlife" category. Practicing the article 23 of the Myanmar Marine Fisheries Law, Department of Fisheries also issued a Directive concerning with the conservation of aquatic mammals on the 2nd. January 2018. It prohibits catching, killing, wounding, harassing, storing, transporting, transferring, selling, exporting without permission whole or part of the dugong and other marine mammals and to release immediately if caught alive.
My interest in dugong started when I saw a photo news about the arrival of a dugong from Rakhine coast to Yangon Zoological Garden in 1966 described in a newspaper. It was the last documentation about the dugongs in Myanmar before our first dugong survey in December 2005.
In collaboration with a marine mammal specialist from Sri Lanka, Ms. Anouk D. Ilangakoon, I did dugong surveys in Rakhine coast of Myanmar. We selected the Gwa and Kyein Ta Li Townships of Rakhine coast because the last document of dugong occurrence came from Rakhine coast. It was the first dugong survey everdone in Myanmar after almost four decades of information gap. In continuation of the previous survey, the second survey was conducted in an extended area off the Rakhine Coast. Just in the last 2007 December, i went to Man Aung Island, from where the dugong was sent to Yangon Zoological Garden, for my third dugong survey.
Man Aung Island is previously known as Cheduba Island. It is an ideal place for dugongs in Myanmar. Some interesting information is that dugongs live in Hmawyone Village waters attack some fishing boats anchored in the village waters. In the wave action, some boats make noise from rudder. Dugongs attack only to those rudders which make such noise and try to break the rudder by its head. It is an interesting habit, isn't it? Maybe, that noise is a challenge or territory declaration or competition for mate!!! Bioacoustics study is a very new subject here. As far as I know, no one has ever done such kind of research. It is a good chance for bioacoustics!We submitted our reports to the Society for Marine Mammalogy which provided grant-in-aid for our surveys.
I need financial support to carry out more dugong studies and awareness raising programmes.
To visit Tint's Dugong and seagrass special website, click here
In collaboration with my very good friend from Sri Lanka, Ms. Anouk D. Ilangakoon, we could do dugong survey to some extent of the Rakhine coast of Myanmar.
Here are some reports. Just click on the title to download them in pdf.
Tun, T. (2007). Dugong in Myanmar and the Way Forward. A poster presented at the SEASTAR2000 Conference held in Phuket, Thailand. (1.40MB)
Tun, T. and A. D. Ilangakoon (2008). Assessment of Dugong (Dugong dugon) Occurrence, Distribution and Threats in the North-Western Coastal Waters of Rakhine State, Myanmar. (1.10MB)