Agartala, March 11: The Union ministry of forest and environment has sanctioned Rs 33 core to implement a masterplan for the upgrade of the 18.21square km Sipahijala wildlife sanctuary.
The money will be utilised to expand the area of the sanctuary from the present 18.21square km to 24.13square km, besides improving the living condition of 51 species of animals in the sanctuary.
“At present, the enclosures of all animals are very close to each other; we will move them away to give them a little bit of space and freedom. This will, of course, take almost a decade,” said Ajit Bhowmik, wildlife warden of the Sipahijala sanctuary, 30km south of Agartala town along the Assam-Agartala national highway extension.
“The enclosures for herbivorous and carnivorous animals and reptiles will be separated first and then there will be further segregation, depending on the species,” said Bhowmik.
He said 23 more species of animals would be added to the present 51 over two years. The work on the sanctuary will begin from next month as already Rs 90 lakh have been sanctioned by the Union ministry of forest and environment. Bhowmik said in the next two weeks, three animals — a gibbon, a female binturong and a male clouded leopard — would arrive at Sipahijala and in exchange, the state will give two male binturongs and a female clouded leopard. “We often face problems in breeding animals, as for certain species we are short of female partners,” said Bhowmik, adding that the exchange programme with other sanctuaries was on to facilitate smooth breeding of animals in the sanctuary.
He said since 2008-2009, breeding has been proceeding smoothly because of the exchange programme with other zoos. “Recently, we have had three newborn clouded leopards and one pair of monkeys, though increasing the number of rare bespectacled monkey is proving to be difficult; one female bespectacled monkey is now pregnant and we are arranging a safe delivery,” said Bhowmik. He said Rs 2.84 crore had been separately allocated by the Union ministry for smooth breeding of animals and for installation of closed-circuit TVs.
He said the sanctuary had submitted a special plan for preservation of vultures in view of their rapidly dwindling numbers but the project has not yet been sanctioned. “We now have only one vulture of one species and two of a different variety but we have not been able to start the breeding process to increase the numbers; hopefully, the sanction will come through from the Union ministry and we will be able to begin the work,” said the warden.