| Sangai in Manipur |
Imphal, Oct. 25: Fears of a natural disaster has prompted Manipur forest department and Wildlife Institute of India to look for an alternative site for sangai — the world’s most endangered deer species .
Officials in the wildlife wing of the state forest department are apprehensive that natural calamities like wildfire, flood or an epidemic can spell doom for the sangai population at Keibul Lamjao National Park, the only remaining natural habitat of the species.
“There is always a threat to the survival of the animal. Because of the environmental change and ecology of the lake, anything could happen to the sangai. So we have to find an alternative habitat for it. The vegetation on which the animal survives has also become scarce because of frequent floods, change in the ecology and human interference. A sudden wildfire or an epidemic could wipe out the animal from the park,” a wildlife wing official said.
The sanctuary, measuring nearly 40 square km, is actually a floating biomass on the Loktak lake which spreads across Bishnupur, Imphal West and Thoubal districts. It was declared a national park in 1977 and is about 55km from Imphal.
The last headcount carried out in 2003 put the sangai population in the park at 180. The state forest department is preparing to carry out another survey and they are confident that the sangai population has increased.
The deer species in the second home at Langol hill range in Sadar Hills of Senapati district has also increased to nine recently.
The official said they were studying wildlife sanctuaries of the state, especially the Langol reserve forest in Sadar Hills, Neingang reserve forest in Imphal East, Churachandpur wildlife sanctuary and Yangoupokpi Lokchao wildlife sanctuary in Chandel district for setting up the alternative sanctuary.
“The state forest department officials are checking the ground reality while the WII officials are closely examining the ecology of the forest areas through satellite imagery system,” the official said.
The wildlife wing has also started activities for setting up of a rescue centre for sangai close to the natural habitat. The proposed centre would have a 10-hectare area, half of which would be land and half phumdi (floating biomass).
The wildlife wing is also planning to put up statues of a male and female sangai at the gate of the Keibul Lamjao park.