Hope for tragopan brood

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By VIVEK CHHETRI
  • Published 13.08.11
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Darjeeling, Aug. 12: The Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park in Darjeeling has decided to start the captive breeding of satyr and Temminck tragopans.

The zoo has received two female satyr tragopans, three female and one male temmincks about a week back from London.

Although the Paradise Wildlife Park in London had sent 10 tragopans, for birds — two male satyrs and two male temmincks — died during transit at the Singapore airport.

“The birds were kept in the sun and died from the heat. We have, however, requested the World Pheasant Association to send at least one more male satyr tragopan from the Paradise Wildlife Park in London,” said A.K. Jha, the director of the zoo.

The transfer of the pheasants was facilitated by the association. Until and unless a male reaches the Darjeeling zoo, the breeding of satyr cannot be launched.

The Darjeeling zoological park is the co-ordinating zoo for the captive breeding of red panda, Tibetan wolf, satyr tragopan, grey peacock pheasant, snow leopard and Himalayan salamander.

The zoo has already completed the captive breeding of the red panda and the snow leopard.

A co-ordinating zoo acts as the major centre for the captive breeding and the animals born there will be exchanged with other participating zoos. The participating zoos will a back up for animals (in case of epidemics) and ensures a healthy genetic strain of the animal.

The Darjeeling facility is also a participating zoo for the rest of the animals which are part of the breeding programme.

“We will start the breeding programme for temminck tragopans even though the Shillong zoo has also been classified as a co-ordinating zoo for the bird. The Shillong zoo is not yet ready with the pheasant. Once the male satyr tragopan arrives, we will start its breeding too,” said Jha.

Satyr tragopans are found in the Darjeeling region. But the zoo here does not have the pheasant as it is not authorised to capture the animals from the wild. Temmincks are found in the in the north-eastern states.

A pheasantry will soon come up in the Darjeeling hills. Although work on the facility had started at Dow Hill in Kurseong, it is progressing at a very slow pace because of lack of funds. Nevertheless, the pheasantry is expected to be completed by next year after which the entire birds will be transferred to the Kurseong facility from the Darjeeling zoo.

The phesantry is expected to be spread over 70 acres. Tragopans had never been breed in captivity till the 20th century. However, a phesantry in Himachal Pradesh was able to breed one tragopan in 2005, nine in 2007 and four in 2010.