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Asia Dive News : Thailand bids to become regional dugong conservation center

Thailand has made a bid to act as the central coordinator for conserving the rare dugong, or sea cow, within the Asian region.

Speaking today at the 3rd IUCN World Conservation Congress in Bangkok, Mr. Suwan Phitaksintorn from the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation said that Thailand has the largest population of dugongs in Asia, with around 200 of the near-extinct mammals living in its waters, mainly off Koh Libong in the country's southern Trang Province.

Blaming the rapid decline of the dugong population on illegal fishing techniques, he said that Koh Libong had already been declared a dugong conservation zone.

This morning's round-table discussions brought together dugong conservationists from countries across the region, including Japan, the Philippines and Thailand, who agreed to create a regional dugong conservation network.

Mr. Maitree Duangsawasdi, the Director-General of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, said that Thailand had proposed to act as the central coordinator of the network in recognition of its large dugong population.

However, he conceded that while Thai researchers were extremely knowledgeable about dugongs, they still lacked in-depth information on dugong behaviour due to shortages of technology and funding.

Thailand will call on Japan to provide satellite technology to track dugong populations, taking photos of each dugong over its 70-year lifespan.

Source: MCOT