Marium death spurs 'dugong masterplan' talks

Marium death spurs 'dugong masterplan' talks

Sad loss: Marium, the baby dugong who was rescued in April and raised by humans in the sea off Trang province died yesterday morning.
Sad loss: Marium, the baby dugong who was rescued in April and raised by humans in the sea off Trang province died yesterday morning.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment will hold a special meeting on Monday to discuss the "national dugong masterplan", following the death of Marium, a baby dugong who died with pieces of plastic bags in her belly.

"The death of Marium is a sad loss, but it is the beginning of a mission to protect animals. Indeed, there are many dugongs whose survival is threatened, and we have prepared a plan to protect them," said Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa on Saturday.

He said staff will focus on caring for Yamil, a three-month-old baby dugong rescued in July.

He was being treated at the Phuket Marine Biological Centre. "Yamil is safe and in good hands now," said Mr Varawut.

Marium and Yamil are under the marine conservation patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana Rajakanya.

On Monday, ministry executives will discuss a plan to make Koh Libong, an island in Kantang district of Trang, a truly safe sanctuary for the mid-sized sea mammals that are listed as a vulnerable species that are close to extinction.

It will also ask the cabinet to approve the ministry's plan to host the world's first dugong forum in Trang province. Koh Libong is a global dugong sanctuary, thanks to the conservation efforts of villagers and its rich sea grass.

Marium, the eight-month-old dugong who was separated from her family in April, was relocated to the coast of Koh Libong in May under veterinary supervision, and was the first dugong known to be cared for by humans in Thailand.

She died at 12.09am on Saturday in a nursery tank as vets were trying to save her life. She had fallen ill last week after encountering a male dugong while being monitored by vets in the Andaman Sea.

Her death sparked outrage over the failure to solve the epidemic of garbage in the sea.

Netizens shared photos of Marium, as well as images from her autopsy, that show pieces of plastic bags that vets removed from her stomach. Vet Nantarika Chansue, of the Department of Veterinary Medicine at Chulalongkorn University, confirmed the baby dugong died because of a serious infection that was made worse by plastic garbage that clogged her intestines. "Plastic bags might not be the direct cause of her death, but they worsened her already serious condition and made it impossible to save her life," said Ms Nantarika, who was overseeing the case of Marium.

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