Civic body in bid to preserve dugong

DUBAI — The Environment Department at Dubai Municipality is in discussion with international experts on taxidermy to preserve the first Dugong sighted in Dubai, Reda Hassan Salman told Khaleej Times recently. The dugong was found dead in the waters of the Jebel Ali Marine Sanctuary on December 5, and is currently being kept preserved at a cold storage facility.

By Zaigham Ali Mirza

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Published: Thu 16 Dec 2004, 11:30 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 1:30 PM

According to Salman, the civic body intends to preserve the body of the rare animal, which is listed as vulnerable to extinction by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), to enable people of the emirate, particularly the young generation, to know about the country’s natural wealth.

“It is a very rare animal and it is very shy by nature. As a result many people have absolutely no knowledge about it,” Salman said.

Salman said that several institutions from outside the UAE have shown interest in the municipality’s plans and the preserved dugong could soon be available for viewing for the residents.

“One particular institution proposed doing the taxidermy in exchange for the dugong’s skeleton, but we already have a plan to use the skeleton as a means to educate people about the species,” he revealed.

Salman said that once preserved, the dugong can be displayed at a museum or natural history centre to educate visitors on its life and importance.

Describing the find as sad but fortunate, Mohammed Abdulrahman Hassan, Head of Marine Environment and Sanctuaries Unit at the Environment Department, explained that the animal died not due to natural cause but because it was drowned, probably after getting entangled in a fishing net. He pointed out that the dugong is protected by the Federal Law No. 23 of 1999 on the Exploitation, Protection, and Development of Aquatic Bio-Resources in the UAE.

He expressed surprise that the many of those who are directly or indirectly connected to environment and wildlife, including the media, have shown no interest in the find.

“It is an endangered animal, and world over great enthusiasm is shown by environmentalists and the members of the general public in activities related to its conservation. We therefore need to educate the public on the importance of this animal and its natural habitat, which is part of our natural history and wealth,” Hassan said.

He lamented that people generally do not realise that animals, especially those that are being pushed towards extinction, are very precious and their loss is irreparable.

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