Chrouk Toeuk Remains in Cambodia’s Sea

AKP Phnom Penh, July 04, 2020 —

Chrouk Toeuk is an endangered marine species believed by a local conservationist to remain in Cambodia’s sea, but a proper science research to update its population has not been taken yet.

Chrouk Teuk is called by local people, but it is commonly known as sea cow and by its commercial name as Dugong.

Mr. Ouk Vibol, Director of Fisheries Conservation, Fisheries Administration, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries told AKP that Chrouk Toeuk or Dugong still exists in Cambodian sea and migrates between Kampot and Kep provinces of Cambodia and Phu Quoc island in Vietnam.

Chrouk Toeuk is a medium-sized marine mammal. It is the only living representative of the once-diverse family Dugongidae. Its populations are believed to be close to extinction. The IUCN lists the dugong as a vulnerable species to extinction, while the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species limits or bans the trade of derived products. In Cambodia, Chrouk Toeuk is classed as Critical Endangered Marine Species by the Sub-Decree No. 123 dated Aug. 12, 2009. The Dugong hunting, selling and transportation are banned.

Mr. Ouk Vibol said Chrouk Toeuk’s life expectancy is nearly the same as human, i.e. around 70 years old. It can grow up to 4 metres in length and weight up to 1,000 kilogrammes. Its ecology’s circle is at the seabed between 3 to 10 metres deep within seagrass bed.

Chrouk Toeuk is mammal, which means they give birth to live young and then produce milk and nurse them. Once the female is pregnant, she will carry the unborn baby, called a foetus for 12-14 months before giving birth. Female Chrouk Toeuk gives birth underwater to a single calf at three to seven-year intervals. Chrouk Toeuk graze on seagrass, especially young shoots and roots in shallow coastal waters. They can consume up to 40 kilogrammes of seagrass in a day.

In 2000s, a local media reported that around 150 to 200 Chrouk Toeuk inhabited and migrated between Kampot, Kep and Phu Quoc island, but Mr. Ouk Vibol said there is no exact figure, he estimated to be between 15 to 20 only.

“We don’t know how many of them in that area, but we are sure they exist in Cambodian sea because divers keep reporting their footprint at the seabed,” he underlined. “It is so hard to conduct a census on Dugong population because they live at the seabed and never come up to the water surface.”

Over the world, Chrouk Toeuk encounter many threats, especially hunting for meat, but Cambodians do not consume them.
Mr. Ouk Vibol said Chrouk Toeuk in Cambodia may face extinction due to human activities such as destruction and modification of habitats, pollution, rampant illegal fishing activities, climate change, and so on.

By Heng Panha