Conservation of dugongs in the Southwest Indian Ocean

By Lea Bernagou, Naturalistes de Mayotte

A regional project for the conservation of dugongs in the Southwest Indian Ocean seeks to identify sites frequented by dugongs and understand their habitat use.

Between 24 April – 7 May, rangers from Moheli National Park in the Comoros were provided with drone pilot training to build local capacity for monitoring the dugong population movements within the national park. Rangers were also introduced to the intertidal seagrass monitoring methodology and data management protocols being implemented in Mayotte.

These training sessions aim to standardize the methodologies for monitoring dugong and seagrass in the region, providing reliable special and temporal data.

Led by Naturalistes de Mayotte and in partnership with the Centre Universitaire de Formation et de Recherche de Mayotte (CUFR), Parc Naturel Marin de Mayotte and DroneGo Mayotte, the project is co-financed by the European Union, within the framework of the PO INTERREG V Indian Ocean.

CUFR is also currently developing a method for detecting dugongs using environmental DNA (e-DNA). Water samples, taken using innovative filtration pumps, will be analyzed to identify of traces of dugong DNA, helping to identify dugong sites.

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