Two persons who had been transporting parts of ‘dugong’ (sea cow) for meat had been arrested by the Navy on Sunday in Thavulpadu, Mannar.
Parts of dugong which had been killed for meat were being transported by a three wheeler. The weight of the haul was about 82 kg. Dugong, a rare marine mammal, is being hunted for its meat which is sold illegally.
The suspects, who were produced before the Mannar Magistrate’s Court on Monday, were released on surety bail of Rs 100,000 each. The Wildlife Conservation Department was conducting investigations to trace the killers of the animal.
Dugong is classified as ‘vulnerable to extinction’ according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Dugongs are protected under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), to which Sri Lanka acceded in 1979, limits or bans the trade of derived products from it.
Dugongs found in sea grass meadows in the North West of Sri Lanka, namely the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay, are highly threatened and the species is probably critically endangered, according to marine biologists.