April 19, 2012
The dugong is a seagrass-dependant marine mammal found in tropical and subtropical coastal wa- ters. Although dugongs occur in over 40 countries, most of these are developing economies with limited capacity to contain impacts on dugongs within sustainable levels, and population declines and local extinction have been reported for a number of areas within their range. As a signatory of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation and Management of Dugongs and their Habitats throughout their Range, Madagascar represents an instrumental actor in the international effort to support the preservation of dugongs and their habitat. In cooperation with UNEP, Conven- tion on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (UNEP/CMS), Community Centered Conservation and Madagascar Ministry of Environment and Forest, the Wildlife Conservation Soci- ety Madagascar conducted, between January and April 2012, the UNEP/CMS Dugong Questionnaire Survey in 22 villages in Antongil Bay. This survey contributes to a larger understanding of the presence of dugongs, sea turtles and dolphins in Madagascar and the Western Indian Ocean as well as the human perceptions and threats inherent in their existence. 115 total surveys were com- pleted. 43 of the fishers surveyed reported seeing dugongs, 114 said they have seen sea turtles and 108 revealed witnessing dolphins in their fishing area. The hunting of dugongs is apparently not common and even taboo among some fishers. The last sighting of a dugong was in 2011. When asked about what they would do if they caught a dugong accidentally most said they would release it (if alive), but there were significant responses indicating that some would eat or sell it.