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Meet on zoo breeding

Guwahati, Aug. 27: A meeting hosted by the Central Zoo Authority has suggested that golden langurs, swamp deer and Asiatic water buffaloes can be bred at the zoo.

The meeting of the coordination committee on ex-situ or “off-site” conservation breeding programme of the one-horned rhino was held today at the Assam state zoo.

Officials said suitable infrastructure would have to be put up before this plan is put into practice. The Assam chief wildlife warden has been directed to prepare the plan.

The meeting discussed the possibility of enhancing the founder population of golden langurs by translocating them from Umananda island or from any other place they are rescued from. The langurs can be also brought from Manas National Park, Chakrashila wildlife sanctuary or any other location as and when rescued.

The meeting has suggested that the state zoo should make housing/display facility for the endemic species of the region, including swamp deer and Asiatic water buffalo.

The zoo authority has selected the Assam State Zoo-cum-Botanical Garden as the coordinating zoo for ex-situ conservation breeding programme for rhinos.

The Delhi and Patna zoos are also participating in the breeding programme.

The meeting was chaired by member secretary, Central Zoo Authority, B.S. Bonal, and attended by senior officials of the state forest department and other experts.

The breeding programme of one-horned rhinoceros, supported by the zoo authority, started at the Assam zoo in 2012 and has been progressing well.

Experts said there should be enrichment of the enclosure where the rhinos have been kept. Feeding and nutrition should be improved and there should be more rhinos for conservation breeding as a single pair is not enough, they added.

Divisional forest officer of Assam state zoo, C.K. Bora, gave a detailed account of rhino breeding at the zoo and suggested necessary measures for providing additional rhinos from other places like rescue centres, from the wild, through exchange and other means.

Emphasizing on the point, project director of Pygmy Hog conservation programme, advised that the rescued rhinos, which were not fit for release in the wild, may be sent to the Assam zoo for the breeding programme.

Bonal said the idea behind the conservation breeding programme is to make zoos act as an insurance of wild animals in case of natural calamities.

Bonal requested Mukesh Kumar, director of Kanpur zoo, to share experiences of the rhino-breeding programme there. Kumar explained the status of rhinos in the zoo and shared experiences about an injured female rhino while mating and necessary follow-up steps taken for its recovery.

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