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Bahrain needs to 'act to save dugongs'

Manama, December 26, 2010

Bahrain needs to take action now to prevent the remaining population of dugongs (sea cows) from completely disappearing from its waters, said an environment group.

Friends of the Environment Society is calling on Bahrain's authorities and the community to join it in helping to protect dugongs and all of the country's unique biodiversity.

Society president Ali Abdulnabi Muhammed said dugongs were seriously under threat in Bahrain's waters.

'We used to be the second country after Australia with the largest population of sea cows and now we have hardly any left because of dredging and reclamation,' he told our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News (GDN).

'We want MPs to do some work and go for strict laws.'

Bahrain has some 229 known species of amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles, according to the World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Of these, 0.9 per cent are endemic, meaning they exist in no other country, and 5.2 per cent are threatened.

Bahrain is home to at least 195 species of vascular plants.

The country has already ratified various environmental protocols, including the Convention on Biodiversity, has declared six protected areas and is drawing up a national environment strategy.

However, according to the United Nations Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-3) report, industrial waste being dumped in the sea and marine construction represent the two major threats to species native to Bahrain.

Friends of the Environment Society decided to focus on raising awareness about the loss of dugongs and biodiversity in general because this year was designated by the UN as the International Year of Biological Diversity, said Muhammed.

'Bahrain was well known as a country of a million palm trees, but where are they now?' he asked.

'The unfair exploitation of resources, climate change, pollution, the inappropriate removal of sewage, overfishing and dredging and reclamation had an effect on the marine environment, particularly dugongs.

'The natural habitat is under threat from collective factors and apart from climate change it is mainly due to people. There are a few laws that protect the environment, but we need to respect these laws.'

The society, at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Medical University of Bahrain (RCSI-MUB), was established in September with the aim of raising awareness about the importance of protecting Bahrain's environment and biodiversity.

It has held various activities including a lecture on biodiversity presented by United Nations Environment Programme Regional Office for West Asia programme officer for biodiversity and ecosystems Diane Klaimi.

Other events included a clean up at 'bird island' to the east of Bahrain in association with the RCSI-MUB divers and a trip to Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve.

The society will continue to raise awareness on protecting Bahrain's biodiversity and the next event will be a practical workshop, entitled Think Green Be Green, where MPs, environmentalists, students and others will be invited to attend.

'All of our aims are to raise awareness and with this workshop we hope to pass some suggestions to MPs,' said Muhammed, who is a fourth-year medical student at RCSI-MUB.

'We believe as students we have a responsibility to do something to help protect the environment and raising awareness is key.

'We invite all students to be part of our society and other non-governmental organisations to join us. We send a message to the state to set legislation and laws and make change.

'We hope by holding events and raising awareness we can send a message to them because the youth will be the leaders in the future.'-TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | Environment | Animals | biodiversity | dugongs | sea cows |

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