Club Paradise
Dimakya Island, Municipality of Coron

The Dugong Conservation Program

The "DUGONG" or sea cow is indeed a unique animal. It is a close relative of the Manatee.  Being the only herbivorous mammal today, it has several striking features similar to mermaids- fish like tail, brownish smooth skin, mammary glands, woman like genitalia and even it's suckling baby. 
All populations of dugong except the Australian population are listed in Appendix I of CITES (Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Flora and Fauna) and are therefore endangered. Here in the Philippines, only three major areas may still harbor a viable population: Palawan, Southern Mindanao and Quezon-Isabela. In other areas of the archipelago, dugongs are known to be extinct. 

ugongs can live for over seventy years. Both males and females becomes sexually mature by age nine to ten years. Gestation period for dugongs however, lasts for thirteen months giving birth to only one calf. It will take another three to five years before the dugong can reproduce again. 
Side by side it's very slow reproduction rate are the various external threats which make them vulnerable to extinction. Dugong meat is considered a delicacy, and is said to be tastier than beef. These defenseless creatures were hunted through fish nets, dynamites and spears. A good number of dugongs are also accidentally caught in fish corals and other fishing gears. They end up being butchered and consumed by humans. 

The Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) issued Administrative Order No. 55 in 1991 to protect the animal from exploitaion. Any harm done on the dugong is now punishable by law. The Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau of DENR and non-government organizations have been conducting distribution and habitat surveys and undertaking education activities on dugong conservation. 

lub Paradise and the Dugong 

Dimakya Island, home to Club Paradise, is one of the few areas in the world where observation of the dugong in its natural habitat can be done underwater. Since 1992, dugongs have been observed to regularly feed off the seagrass bed of the island's docking area. Sightings of the animal were however only recorded starting June 1994. In three years time (June 1994-June 1997) a total of 212 sightings has been recorded. 

In August 1994, a group of 4 dugongs was seen, while in October of the same year, two dugongs in bouts of courtship were also sighted. A total of 7 different dugongs had visited the area, but only one of them had been coming regularly. This is the same dugong that has been coming recently. This dugong is a male with some parallel scars on the back and a distinctive scar on the left side of the body. 

Club Paradise and the Dugong Conservation 

In September 1994, a WWF-Marine Program officer and a Fuji TV filming crew came to Club Paradise to do a documentary on Palawan wildlife. By chance, they were able to record a 30-minute underwater video footage of a dugong feeding on seagrasses off the island. The footage, revealing interesting aspects of the animal behavior, prompted the WWF to conduct a study of the wild dugongs. This study was subsequently funded by Kabang Kalikasan ng Pilipinas-WWF-Philippines and Toba Aquarium of Japan with the assistance of Pawikan Conservation Project-PAWB-DENR and Club Paradise . The project is titled 'Dimakya Dugong Conservation Project'. 

The project aims to: 
1) determine the seagrass distribution in Busuanga area 
2) identify the dugong feeding grounds and characterize them based on seagrass type, habitat conditions, etc. 
3)gather physical and biological data concerning the dugong. 
4) disseminate information on the dugong and conservation efforts by giving seminars, slide/video presentation and information-education campaign (IEC) materials. 

Most of the project's activities are conducted in Dimakya Island and its surrounding communities. Club Paradise, believing that the resort's greatest asset is its natural beauty, has been instituting measures to maintain the ecological integrity of Dimakya Island. Its heavy support on the Dugong Conservation Project is only one of the many manifestations of its dedication to the propagation of environment and tourism working hand in hand. 


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