Mozambique records largest sighting of dugongs since the 1990s

Posted by David Henning on 20 December 2021

Bazaruto Archipelago National Park in Mozambique has recently documented the largest herd of dugongs seen along the East African coast since the 1990s.

Dugongs are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN red-list, with a decreasing population. Picture: Getaway Gallery/ Julien Willem

According to researchers in the park, the herd is estimated to tally 57 individuals, consisting of large groups with multiple calves.

The dugong, a species of sea cow, is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN red-list, with a decreasing population. So a large sighting like this, with multiple calves, is a promising sign for the potential population growth in the area.

Researchers in Bazaruto believe this to be the largest sighting of dugongs along the east African coast since the 1990s. Picture: Bazaruto Archipelago National Park.

The dugong primarily grazes on seagrasses,  spending most of its time in seagrass beds. It is legally protected throughout most of its range but remains threatened by habitat destruction, collision with boats, where it has gone regionally extinct throughout much of its range.

Bazaruto is home to the region’s last viable population of dugongs, where the the1,360 km2 marine area is managed by African Parks, which have implemented monitoring programmes and community awareness to ensure the growth and survival of this unique animal.

Bazaruto Archipelago National Park is a unique ecological area, which is home to141 bird species, 18 reptile species, 21 mammal species, five dolphin species and of course, the last viable population of an estimated 180 dugongs in the western Indian Ocean.

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