At the confluence of the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are a union territory of India made up of 572 islands, 37 of which are inhabited. The territory is located about 150 km (93 mi) north of Aceh in Indonesia and is divided from Thailand and Myanmar by the Andaman Sea. It consists of two island groups, the Andaman Islands (partially) and the Nicobar Islands, which are situated north and south of the 10°N parallel and divided by the 150 km-wide Ten Degree Channel (or by 179 km). To the east and west, respectively, are the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal.
The island of Andaman is full with adventures and uncommon species that will astound you and leave you in awe of nature’s wonders. The Dugong, a type of sea cow that eats only plants, is one of nature’s wonders. The dugong, commonly referred to as the sea cow, is the official animal of Andaman and is primarily found in Little Andaman. It is the only species of the Dugongidae family still existing, however even its survival is critically endangered and deteriorating at a rapid rate as a result of poaching. It is referred to as the Lady of the sea and has a lifespan of 70 years. Since dugongs and other sirenians are the only herbivorous marine mammals that resemble cows in appearance and diet, they are often referred to as “sea cows” together with other sirenians. They are primarily a peaceful species that lives deep inside the sea and consumes the entire plant while eating, even the roots. There are only about 50 of them in Andaman, and the Andaman Islands’ government is most concerned with ensuring their existence. It is referred to as pani-suwar or sea-pigs in Andaman Island (thawtee). Though it may sound offensive, this mammal is known as a sea pig because of its eating habits. Its name is primarily a result of its size and body structure. The Dugong’s back, where the majority of the blubber is deposited, serves as its defensive structure. They don’t engage in fights or attack small fish because they aren’t particularly violent animals. As a kind of self-defense, they turn their backs on potential assailants and predators, enabling them to quickly from the situation. If you visit the Andaman Islands around the right time of year, you can witness the male Dugong race impress a female spouse by protecting the region from rival
males. They reach sexual maturity and begin to develop tusks in males between the ages of eight and eighteen as a result of high testosterone levels.
Up to 37 different countries’ seas contain dugongs. For generations, it has been hunted for its meat and oil, which has caused a decline in its population. Its meat is revered as an aphrodisiac and a necessary component of oil in India as well. As a result of their life history and need on seagrasses that are only found in coastal settings, they are currently categorised as vulnerable to extinction under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The population is declining for a number of reasons, including habitat loss and squalor, gill netting, chemical contaminants, widespread indigenous use, and hunting.
The Red Sea has the highest density of dugongs, followed by the Persian Gulf. There are just 200 dugongs left, so India is urging its South Asian neighbours to join the Dugong UNEP/CMS MOU as soon as they can. Dugongs are primarily found near “Dugong Creek” in the Little Andaman Island in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. According to the study’s findings, although few in number, you can see them in other locations, including the Ritchies archipelago’s Neil Island and some of the Havelock group of islands, the South Andaman Islands’ Tarmugli, Jolly Buoy, and Rutland Islands, the North and Middle Andaman Islands’ White-Cliff, Reef, Landfall Islands, and Mayabunder region, Hutbay, and the central group of Nicobar Islands. In the Andaman and Nicobar region, there are about fifty dugongs, but it is vital for them to survive since coral reefs are disappearing
and poaching is on the rise.
Threatened by dugong commercialization, the Andaman and Nicobar Environment Team, the Forest Department, and the Nature Conservation Foundation are working to protect these animals and develop a natural habitat that would allow them to reproduce and live in peace. The first step in protecting these gentle sea creatures is to locate their habitats and raise awareness among the locals, including fishermen and boat owners, about the threats posed by poaching.
As a result, even though dugongs are unquestionably the state animal of Dugong, the threat of extinction and commercialization of the dugong trade may cause them to go extinct. In addition to government activities, local communities and visitors should raise awareness of this animal and work to preserve its natural habitat. Since this marine mammal is part of the Andaman history, many divers travel to the island in the hopes of spotting it; if you are one of them, plan your trip right away.