The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) will help Vietnam protect endangered creatures including the endangered dugong in the Mekong Delta coastal province of Kien Giang, the Vietnam News Agency said Saturday.
With US$225,000 from WWF, the United Nations Environment Program, local budget and businesses operating on the shared waters of Vietnam and Cambodia, a program will not only protect the dugong, but also corals and seagrasses that it is heavily dependent on.
The program will include scientific research and surveys about the marine mammal and concerned eco-systems.
It will establish preservation model for endangered species in the waters where the dugong usually appears.
There will be media promotion campaigns to raise public attention about the creature as well.
A mature dugong is between 2.4 and 2.7 meters long, weighs 250-400 kilograms and has a long lifespan of 70 years or more.
Habitat degradation has reduced its distribution and many populations are close to extinction.
Increasing mainland pollution and the development of coastal urban areas have killed a lot of seagrasses, which is the only food for the mammal, scientists say.
Several dugong were also hit dead by boats or hunted for its meat and organs.
Scientists say there are around 100,000 dugong living in the world, including ten around Con Dao Island off Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province and more than 100 around Phu Quoc off Kien Giang.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the dugong as a species vulnerable to extinction, while the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species limits or bans the trade of derived products.