Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association

Dugongs (Dugong dugon) of the Western Indian Ocean Region: – Identity, Distribution, Status, Threats and Management

Project Objectives

This project is aligned with the goals and objectives of the UNEP/CMS MOU on dugong conservation and with other global, national and trans-boundary biodiversity conservation objectives cf. Nairobi Convention). It will strive to support and improve the overall management effectiveness of existing protected areas, including across trans-boundary areas, as well as via the identification and effective integrated management of proposed new protected areas that encompass dugongs and their habitat (and the coverage of threatened species within this habitat), within the range of Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Comoros and Seychelles.

The objectives of the project are:
i) Identification of the historical and current extent of available seagrass habitat and historical and current distributions of dugongs across the Western Indian Ocean
ii) Identification of any population structure of dugongs of the Western Indian Ocean within global populations and any population discreteness within the Western Indian Ocean region
iii) Identification of any anthropogenic vectors of population decline within ‘hotspots’ and determination of the ‘viability’ of dugongs within ‘hotspots’. Threats
iv) The formulation and implementation of ‘hotspot’ specific dugong management and conservation protocols, to mitigate identified threats. In formulating these, cognisance of coastal CMPs elsewhere, especially IRO of UNEP/CMS (and shark and turtle CMPs) efforts, will be critical and will include fostering community stewardship initiatives, community poverty alleviation through alternative livelihoods (as undertaken in Mozambique).
v) Develop a WIO wide CMP, for implementation in the greater WIO. Increase the understanding of Governments, NGOs and coastal communities of the value of coastal resources. This will be accomplished specifically through all applicable WIO coastal conservation initiatives, including, but not restricted to, signatories to the Dugoung MOU and the Nairobi Convention on protected areas.


The project methodology will follow a series of goal-oriented and identified Key Questions to meet the above objectives

Expected Results

Outcomes arising from this project include:

i) Enhanced public awareness of Western Indian Ocean dugong conservation status and priorities at global, regional, national and local scales
ii) Increased community involvement at all levels in the conservation of dugongs and their habitats
iii) Increased understanding amongst all stakeholders of the linkages between dugongs, their habitats and their surrounding communities
iv) Improved knowledge bases for informed decision making by government authorities and managers in the coastal marine environment
v) Improved collaborative exchange of knowledge bases, capacity and expertise and experience in dugong research, conservation and management across the Western Indian Ocean region
vi) Strengthened institutional capacity to deliver quality research and conservation agendas and outcomes to drive behavioural social and environmental change.

Basic Facts

Duration: 36 months (March 2014 – February 2017)
Project Reference: MASMA/OP/2014/05
Budget: US$ 767 774
WIOMSA Contribution: US$ 480 000
Project Coordinators: Vic COCKCROFT and Almeida GUISSAMULO

Project Partners:

Association for Conservation and Protection of Dugongs and Marine Mammal Species; Centre for Dolphin Studies, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University; Universidade Eduardo Mondlane and Mammal Research Institute Whale Unit, University of Pretoria. Other participating institutions are: Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, Zanzibar, Institute of Marine Sciences and Sea Sense (Tanzania); Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) (Kenya); Seychelles Islands Foundation and Megaptera (Comoros and Mayotte)

Lead Institution: Association for Conservation and Protection of Dugongs and Marine Mammal Species
Year of Approval: 2014
Project Country: Mauritius, Comoros, Reunion, South Africa, and Mayotte
Investigators: Vic Cockcroft, Almeida Guissamulo, Ken Findlay, Omar A. Amir, Frauke Fleischer-Dogley, Mohamed O.S. Mohamed, Narriman S. Jiddawi, Jacob Ochiewo, Michel Vely, and Lindsey West
Study Sites:
Project Activities:

i) establishment of population size – drone surveys,ID of migration patterns – satellite tagging

Students Supported by the Project and Titles of their Projects
For more details about the project:

Vic Cockcroft,
Centre for Dolphin Studies,
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University,
P.O. Box 1856, Plettenberg Bay 6600.
Tel: +27 (0)83 655 6902.
Email: Info@dolphinstudies.co.za

Dr Almeida Guissamulo,
Universidade Eduardo Mondlane,
104, Praça Travessia do Zambeze,
Maputo, Mozambique
Email: almeida.guissamulo@hotmail.com