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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 December 11 - 17  > IUCN Red List shows Okinawa Dugongs on edge of extinction
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2019 December 11 - 17 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

IUCN Red List shows Okinawa Dugongs on edge of extinction

December 13, 2019

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) has recently updated the "Red List", categorizing Dugongs living in the sea around Japan's southwest islands which include Okinawa as "Critically Endangered" meaning a most threatened species.

According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the number of adult Dugongs is less than ten and their population is decreasing. The Red List singles out the construction of a U.S. military base in Nago City's Henoko in Okinawa as "major concern" threatening the mammal's habitat.

The List points out that land reclamation associated with the construction of new runways at the new base has covered seagrass beds, and the dumping of earth and sand into the sea off Henoko has covered hectares of coral and seagrass beds since the construction started in December 2018. The List warns, "The loss and damage to these seagrass beds is likely to be a serious impediment to the recovery of the Dugong population in Okinawa."

The Okinawa Defense Bureau confirmed the existence of three Dugongs around the main island of Okinawa. However, in March this year, one of them was found dead. The remaining two have not been seen since September 2018.

Past relater articles:
> Henoko listed among Mission Blue’s ‘Hope Spots’ [October 30, 2019]
> Environmental NGOs demand immediate halt to Henoko base project and conduct search of remaining dugong [March 21, 2019]
> Henoko dugong found dead [March 20, 2019]
> Signature-collection campaign to designate dugong as prefectural animal initiated [June 8, 2017]
> Nature conservation NGO calls for survey of dugong feeding grounds in Henoko [August 20, 2014]
> WWF-Japan leader calls for dugong research by halting USMC training exercises [April 19, 2009]
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