Singalila test for red panda conservation


Thu, Apr 25, 2019

Our Correspondent
Darjeeling:
The Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park is all set to release four red pandas in the wilds of the Singalila National Park around September-October this year as part of a programme to conserve the endangered mammals, which are found mainly in the eastern Himalayas.
Vinod Kumar Yadav, the member secretary of the West Bengal Zoo Authority, said a proposal to this effect has been submitted to the Union ministry of environment and forest. “A decision has been taken to release four red pandas in the Singalila National Park sometime in September or October…Genetic studies on the red pandas, including DNA profiling and fingerprinting, are currently underway,” he said.
Yadav was speaking on the sidelines of a four-day international workshop on ‘Red Panda Global Species Management Plan’, which began here today. The workshop was preceded by a national-level programme earlier in the year.
Yadav said a species survival plan had been prepared in the last workshop, which includes the expansion of Topgey Dara Breeding Centre for red pandas. He said the jungle habitat evaluation of the red pandas is being done with the help of satellite photography and drones.  “The next step will be the release of the four red pandas in the Singalila National Park and later in the Neora Valley National Park,” he said, adding that plans were also afoot to bring red pandas from countries like Australia.
The Darjeeling zoo had between 2002 and 2004 released four pandas in the Singalila park. Out of them, one named Milli was reportedly killed by a leopard and another named Sweety gave birth to an offspring in the wild.
According to a census carried out in 2012, there were 38 red pandas in the national park. Another round of census is currently underway.
“The census has been going on since last year in two ways; firstly, by physically visiting the nests and through analysis of their scat,” said Ravi Kant Sinha, the principal chief conservator of forest and chief wildlife warden of Bengal.


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