UAE moves to protect dugongs from extinction
The United Arab Emirates is running a series of programmes to protect dugongs from extinction, which is implemented by the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) and Total United Arab Emirates.
According to a classification made by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the dugongs are currently listed as one of the internationally endangered animals.
This programme comes in the framework of joint cooperation agreement between the Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi and Total, which aims to continue the implementation of the Authority to monitor the dugongs and study its biology, habitat and geographical distribution in the territorial waters of the UAE and is sponsored by Total since 1999.
Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General of EAD, said, "A large proportion of dugongs, worldwide, cruise the waters of the Arabian Gulf, where there are about 40 per cent of these communities live in the waters of Abu Dhabi."
She added, "That raises the role of the United Arab Emirates and the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in particular in the protection of dugongs, which is considered an important role in regional and international efforts to protect this type of animals."
She pointed out that since 1999, and funded by the Total, the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi has done many implementations to study dugongs in the UAE, which contributed in the identification of dugongs and their deployment locations.
Studies of the first phase lasted for four years and focused on gathering information on the availability and distribution of those species, status and protection in the territorial waters of the UAE.
And expanded to a second phase to study the biology and environmental effects for this animal.
They also listed the risks and threatening operations that endanger the dugong by identifying the reasons that killed them as well as the causes of deterioration and loss of habitat.
The team was able to also collect data on the environment and habitats of the dugongs through studying patterns of their migration using satellite tracking.
In addition, the team selected marine protected areas and promoted regional cooperation among the countries of their regional habitats, through a memorandum of understanding, which notes their protection at regional level.
For his part, Mr. Jean Luc Guizot, head of Total UAE, talked about the importance of this partnership between the Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi and Total in the field of environment, noting that this partnership emphasizes the commitment of the Government of Abu Dhabi to protect the environment and wild life.
Thabit Zahran Al Abdul Salam, Director of Biodiversity Sector EAD, said that the Dugong, are herbivores and are the only remaining members of (Dugongidae) family.
He said that they are all listed under the endangered animals, as compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Dugongs have a wide spread that extends to 48 countries at least. It limits its spread to the coastal and inland waters of tropical and subtropical Indian Ocean and the Pacific.
They are found in large proportions in the waters of Arabian Gulf. Including other areas where there are dugong like the Western Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and the Eastern Coast of Africa.
He stated that dugongs are facing many challenges in the areas of their deployment, where they are the only Marine Mammal that feed on herbs and plants only. So the human activities in these areas affect the seaweed that is main food for Dugongs in a way that leads to their extension.
Al Abdul Salam mentioned that he has listed the dugongs in the Red List, at the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which was issued in 2009 under the category of "Animals endangered to extinction," which concludes that those beautiful animals are at great risk of extinction from the wild in the near future.
As part of its commitment to the Convention on the protection of Dugongs, the Government of the United Arab Emirates and the Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi, lead global efforts made by the United Nations Environment Programme and the Convention on Migratory Species to achieve this protection.
Catherine Ferran, Executive Director of Total's Foundation, said that the company was established in 1992 and committed to the implementation of many non-profit programmes in many areas, particularly in the protection of marine biodiversity by supporting research and programmes to protect endangered species and ecosystems.
Ferran said that the philosophy of Total Foundation embodies the true meaning of corporate social responsibility and building bridges of cooperation between the research sector and non-profit organizations and companies to increase and share knowledge for the benefit of everyone.
She stressed the Foundation's commitment to strengthening communication with the Total Environment Agency for a better future for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
on his behalf, Sultan Al Hajji, Deputy Chairman of Total UAE, noted their contribution to the implementation of studying the Dugongs.
He said that the contribution of Total is part of its support for the efforts made by the UAE to protect dugongs and to take decisive measures to preserve the environment and biodiversity in the UAE.
It is noted on the Red List of 2009, that the International Union for Conservation of Nature classified the Dugongs as vulnerable to extinction in the future over a medium term.
The list also states that protecting these migratory animals, will benefit the international cooperation activities organised during their migrations.
Thanks to the support provided by Total UAE, the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi has conducted studies on the Dugongs and their habitats in the United Arab Emirates since 1999. The first four years of those studies focused on obtaining general information about these animals, their habitats and how to maintain it. The second phase focused on biological and environmental aspects and evaluation on the Dugongs structure.
Several achievements had been achieved in the framework of this project, notably the important environmental monitoring of the Dugongs and their locations, and reviewing threats on these animals by investigating the causes of death.
Also, several data on their biological environment was collected, using satellite detection and genetics, while developing a plan to protect and manage protected areas of the Dugongs habitats.
Among the most prominent results was to collect basic information about Dugongs and their habitats and the formation of long-term monitoring programs with international protocols , to protect Dugongs and contribute to the management of marine protected areas.
The program is being implemented the United Nations, as they are signing an international memorandum of understanding to protect the animal by the international conventions. While, Local biologists are being trained in marine research programmes.
It is noted that there are a lot of locations in the UAE that are considered as natural habitats to protect the fungal environment. And the government had been drawing up plans and programs that work to protect endangered species, including the Arabian Oryx, the Houbara (the Bustard), the Arabian leopard and hawks. And within the marine environment there are sea turtles and dugongs.
Bo Alsaaev natural marine preservation is considered one of the most important habitats in the UAE, which is located East of Bahrani, and West of Alhadderiaat, including Kerkshan, Dhissa and Futaisi islands.
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