Orphaned dugong (sea cow) calf “Bughaw” has died despite the weeklong intensive care it was provided by volunteer veterinarians at a facility in Busuanga.
Busuanga-based Community Centered Conservation (C3) Philippines program coordinator Reynante Ramilo said Bughaw died around 2:20 a.m. on April 14, a week after it was found stranded on a beach in Barangay Bogtong.
“Ang sabi ng doktor marami na siyempreng factors… after necropsy nakita [nila] na bloated na [si Bughaw]. ‘Yon nga hindi siya nakaka-dumi, may constipation, tapos kulang na rin siguro ‘yong nutrients na nakukuha niya [which he needs from his mother sana]. So bale tumagal siya ng isang linggo,” said Ramilo.
He said the the new pen which is close to Bughaw’s other needs such as refrigerator for milk was actually prepared for his transfer supposedly set this Monday, but the dugong calf did not make it.
Ramilo said they will ask the permission of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) to retrieve Bughaw’s bones after a year to display it for educational purposes.
“Inilibing siya ngayon, kumuha lang ng ilang samples ng specimen after necropsy. Ang balak namin, siyempre kailangan pa rin naming hingiin ang permission ng PCSD, ay ma-preserva at mai-display ang buto niya dito sa Busuanga para at least magamit talaga siya for awareness. Ngayon inilibing siya sa vicinity ng C3 Philippines office, binalot ng kulambo para hindi mawala ‘yong mga buto. Tatagal siguro ng isang taon ‘yong pag-decompose, mga isang taon maganda na ‘yong buto puwede na siyang kunin ulit,” said Ramilo.
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He noted dugongs are considered “critically endangered species” in the country.
Bughaw was found stranded along the beach last week with his mother nowhere in sight.
Ramilo said although they knew from the start that a juvenile dugong has a minimal-to-zero chance of survival, they never hesitated giving it the proper medical care it needed.
The rehabilitation was conducted through the initiative and facilitation of C3 Philippines together with the PCSD, Philippine Mammal Stranding Network (PMMSN), Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB), Coron Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), Bantay Dugong Association, Bogtong Barangay Council and Bantay Gubat, local government units of Busuanga town, and other concerned citizens.
Ramilo also said they originally planned to let another “mother dugong adopt Bughaw for his survival”, they have not had the chance to do it since they are a highly sensitive marine wildlife, especially when taking care of their calves.
Despite the loss, Ramilo said they are choosing to look on the brighter side of Bughaw’s passing.
“Ang tinitingnan na lang namin sa C3 Philippines, ‘yon din ang sabi ng vet, ay makatulong ‘yong mga datos na nakuha doon sa baby dugong na in case na may mangyari ulit hindi lang sa Palawan kundi sa buong Pilipinas ay ma-improve ‘yong mga natutuhan nila dito sa case ni Bughaw,” said Ramilo.