[MARMAM] PhD Thesis,Malaysia

LEELA RAJAMANI A/P RAMNATH RAJAMANI leelarajamani at myjaring.net
Tue Feb 16 07:18:44 PST 2010

Dear Colleagues,

A PDF copy of my thesis is available on dugongs in Sabah,Malaysia

Rajamani L.2009. The Conservation biology of the dugong (Dugong dugon) in
Sabah,Malaysia : a basis for conservation planning. PhD Thesis.Borneo
Marine Research Institute.Universiti Malaysia Sabah.288 pp.

ABSTRACT : Prior to 1999, dugongs were rarely observed in Malaysia. This
first comprehensive study of dugongs and their related seagrass habitats
in Sabah, investigated the local stakeholder environment, the abundance
and distribution of dugongs, identified and monitored threats to dugongs,
and mapped seagrass habitats relevant to dugongs. The study was conducted
in two spatial scales namely, 1) Regional (to determine dugong
distribution in Sabah) (excluding Tawau) 2) Local - to determine local
dugong abundance, conduct seagrass mapping and community surveys at two
study sites Banggi island and Mantanani island. Community surveys
consisted of a census, interview surveys, a dugong monitoring programme
and participant observation. This information was used to determine
stakeholder characters, and their perceptions of the researcher, research
project, dugongs and seagrasses. Local ecological knowledge (LEK) of
dugongs and seagrasses was also sought. The abundance, composition and
habitat area of seagrass was assessed using a method of visually
estimating above-ground seagrass biomass at sites along one kilometre
transects perpendicular to the coast. Biomass was estimated every 50
metres in shallow areas (up to 5 metres depth) and every 100 metres in
deep areas (greater than 5 metres depth). These sites later form the
basis of seagrass meadows using GIS applications. Standardised aerial
surveys were conducted regionally for the coastal waters of Sabah to
determine dugong distribution patterns. The communities of Banggi and
Mantanani are economically disadvantaged, practise destructive fishing
and have little understanding of ecological processes and concepts of
conservation. However, the reasons for dugong decline are known.
Appreciation of the aesthetic value of dugongs within the communities is
varied. However, the community appears to have adequate local knowledge
of the dugong having cultural linkages through a dugong myth.
Approximately, 70% of the total population is young below the age of 30,
who could be receptive to new ideas. Outside influences from the media is
widely available to the community. The community is able to develop a
relationship with the researcher and participate cordially in research
activities. Dugong numbers are very low in Sabah. Fifty two dugongs were
sighted in Sabah excluding Tawau. Based on these results, crude estimates
of minimal count are between 688 and 1376 dugongs residing in coastal
Sabah. Key dugong areas were identified to be Brunei Bay, Labuan Island,
and Sandakan Bay. Banggi Island and Mantanani Island supports a small
population of dugongs respectively. Based on this study, dugongs were
subject to threats, which were mostly anthropogenic. They were 1) blast
fishing, 2) incidental entangling in nets and 3) unsupervised tourism and
vessel strikes. The number of mortalities in Sabah (especially in Banggi
Island), are high compared to dugong abundance results obtained in this
study. When Potential Biological Removal (PBR) estimates were compared to
crude estimates of yearly mortality, it is confirmed that dugong
populations are declining. Ten species of seagrass from two families were
found in Banggi Island and Mantanani Island. These include Halophila
ovalis, Halodule uninervis (broad and thin variety), Thalassia
hemprichii, Cymodocea rotundata, Halophila decipiens, Halophila
spinulosa, Cymodocea serrulata, Syringodium isoetifolium, and Enhalus
acoroides. A new unidentified species of Halophila was collected in
Molleangan Island, west of Banggi Island. Approximately, 415 ha and 112
ha of seagrass meadows were mapped in Banggi island and Mantanani island
respectively giving a total of 527 ha of seagrass available for dugong
consumption. The information obtained on the local communities, seagrass
and dugong provided the basis to inform a comprehensive conservation plan
in Sabah. Key conservation strategies include a dialogue and community
education programme, provision of alternative livelihoods, improving
enforcement to prevent illegal fishing methods, co-management of dugong
and seagrass resources, stringent controls on ecotourism and vessel
strikes, zoning of seagrass in marine protected areas and further
research. As the dugong is a migratory species, conservation management
at an international level with the neighbouring state of Sarawak, and
countries of Brunei, the Philippines and Indonesia is necessary.

Please let me know if you are interested in reading it and I will send a

Best Regards

Leela Rajamani,
Borneo Marine Research Institute,
Universiti Malaysia Sabah,
88999 Kota Kinabalu

Skype address: leela.rajamani

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