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Thai Amulet Craze Creates Threat for Dugong


In Thailand, a craze for amulets which promise wealth or other magic benefits could push the endangered dugong closer to extinction in the area.

The Jatukham Ramathep amulet craze has been criticized as materialism in the Buddhist nation. At least one dealer of Jatukham Ramathep amulets promoted the sale of amulets containing dugong tears. According to a report in the Phuket Gazette, "There is a belief that dugong teardrops possess special powers because mother dugong are known to become obsessed when searching for their lost young."

The dugong, a sister species to the manatee, is already listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, but in Thailand, the situation is actually much worse. There are just 250 dugong in Thai waters, and some fear that the amulet craze could inspire dugong hunting, from which the species would not be likely to recover.