The Palk Bay Dugong Conservation Reserve (DCR) in India is located in shallow inshore waters in southeast India between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. DCR is rich in commercially valuable fisheries and provides vital foraging and breeding grounds for Endangered dugongs (Dugong dugong), hosting 40% of India’s dugong population (100 individuals), as well as Endangered whale sharks (Rhincodon typus), dolphins (Sousa plumbea) and vulnerable porpoises (Neophocaena phocaenoides). The DCR is 448 square kilometers with 82% covered in seagrass. This area is rich in marine biodiversity, faces challenges in sustainable management and community involvement. This project aims to strengthen community participation and establish sustainable financing mechanisms for effective conservation.

A sustainable Nature-based Solution for people and planet

The Zoological Society of London and Wildlife Institute of India are collaborating with local communities and the Tamil Nadu Forest Department on a management plan for the Palk Bay Dugong Conservation Reserve. This plan aims to enhance seagrass habitats, increase the dugong population, and minimize threats like strandings and fishing net entanglement. Key focuses include promoting sustainable fishing, curbing illegal activities (like dugong and sea cucumber collection), and diversifying income for local households. To support these goals, a sustainable financing mechanism involving seagrass blue carbon credits, biodiversity credits, and nature-positive enterprise investments is being developed. This strategy seeks to improve economic sustainability, ensure fair benefit distribution, and bolster climate change resilience by reducing dugong mortalities and safeguarding seagrass ecosystems.

How BNCFF supports

BNCFF supports the project by providing funding and expertise, crucial for developing sustainable financing mechanisms and fostering community engagement for conservation efforts.


Location: Palk Bay Dugong Conservation Reserve, India

BNC focus: Marine Protected Areas

Duration of funds: 16 months (2023-2024)

Project developer: ZSL (Zoological Society of London)

Impacts created



Enhancing the conservation of endangered species like dugongs, and blue carbon ecosystem (seagrass) promoting biodiversity and habitat protection.



Empowering local communities for sustainable natural resource management, improving livelihoods and conservation awareness.



Developing sustainable financial models to support conservation and community development, ensuring long-term economic and ecological benefits.

More information

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