The animal protection organisation Wildlife At Risk (WAR) and the Phu Quoc Island Preservation Zone together launched a campaign in the island district on October 6, calling for the protection of Dugongs and other rare marine animals in danger of extinction.

The region, located in the southern province of Kien Giang, is home to Dugongs - herbivorous marine mammals that spend their entire life at sea and are better known as “sea cows” for their habit of grazing on sea grass.

Hundreds of provincial leaders, students, local people and tourists joined the event, during which they learned about the animal, the threats it faces in Vietnam and the urgent protection measures needed to keep it safe.

The participants signed pledges voicing their commitment to protecting the Dugong and other endangered animals while marching around the district to spread the message among the public.

WAR Director Nguyen Vu Khoi said the activity is part of a project on the protection of Dugong and bio-diversification in Phu Quoc Island during the 2013-2015 period.

Dogongs are thought to live for up to 70 years. Adults can grow to 3 metres in length and weigh up to 450 kilograms. They are hunted for food, oil, traditional medicine and jewelry, and listed globally as vulnerable to extinction.

The Red Book of Vietnam has also put the Dugong on the list of “critically endangered” animals as the population is less than 100 around both Phu Quoc and Con Dao islands.-VNA