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Trade in dugong parts in Southern Bali

  • Paige Biqi Lee (a1) and Vincent Nijman (a2)

Dugong Dugong dugon Lacépède, 1799, a globally threatened marine mammal that occurs in the coastal waters of the Indian and Pacific Ocean, is traded in small numbers throughout their range. We surveyed 128 shops selling wildlife in seven (June 2013) and eight (July 2014) towns on the island of Bali, one of Indonesia's most popular tourist destinations. Dugongs are protected under Indonesian law and CITES Appendix I Iisting precludes international trade. Despite this dugong parts were observed in trade in Denpasar, Mengwi and Sanur where 14 traders were interviewed. We recorded over 130 dugong parts, including raw bones and teeth but also many carved items and some derivatives, with no noticeable difference between years. The most common items were cigarette pipes carved from, predominantly, dugong ribs, and decorative carvings from bone and teeth. The total value of the items observed was $1500–3000. The trade was open and qualitatively similar to trade in parts of non-protected species. Information from traders suggests that dugongs are caught throughout Indonesia, and are both targeted specifically and caught accidentally. It is imperative for the management of dugongs to take the illegal trade in dugong parts into account and for the authorities to curb the trade by taking appropriate action in line with Indonesia's legislation. Greater awareness of the plight of the dugong, including the impediments to their conservation posed by the illegal trade in body parts, by the residents of and visitors to Bali, may aid in pressuring the authorities to take these steps.

Corresponding author
Correspondence should be addressed to: V. Nijman, Department of Social Sciences, Oxford Brookes University, Gibbs Building, Gipsy Lane, Oxford OX3 0BP, UK email:
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Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
  • ISSN: 0025-3154
  • EISSN: 1469-7769
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