WILDLIFE: Three cubs born in captivity – Red pandas head for dozen at sikkim zoo

WILDLIFE: Three cubs born in captivity – Red pandas head for dozen at sikkim zoo – Sikkim growing in leaps and bounds while Darjeeling languishes under Bengal ?!!

Two red pandas at the Himalayan Zoological Park near Gangtok - interesting species and rare too ?!! (Photo by Prabin Khaling)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Gangtok, July 1: Three red panda cubs have been born in captivity at the Himalayan Zoological Park near here, taking the total number of the animal at the facility to 11.

“The cubs were born on June 3 and 20,” said the park’s additional director Gut Lepcha. The number of the red panda could hit the dozen mark with a pregnant one expected to deliver soon, said zoo authorities.

One cub was born on June 3 and a pair on June 20.

The park at Bulbuley, 10km from here, has been doing a captive breeding of the red panda since 1999. The red panda, the state animal of Sikkim, figures in Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act because of its dwindling population.

“Of late, there has been good results. Last year, two cubs were born,” said Lepcha. “The captive breeding had started with a pair in 1999 and later, two more red pandas, rescued from the wild, joined the zoo. We also exchanged red pandas with Padmaja Naidu Zoological Park in Darjeeling to prevent in-breeding.”

Under the Central Zoo Authority’s scheme, Lepcha said, the Darjeeling park is the co-ordinating zoo for the captive breeding of the red panda while the Sikkim facility is a participating zoo.

With the red panda population increasing at the Himalayan park, the authorities have built two more enclosures to house the animal. Earlier, the red pandas were kept in an enclosure spread across 1,440sqm for display.

“Three male and one female red pandas are now kept at the display centre, while the others are housed at two temporary enclosures,” said the additional director. “We will develop two more enclosures.”

The Sikkim facility has also been designated by the Central Zoo Authority as the co-ordinating zoo for the captive breeding of three Himalayan wildlife species. “The three — blood pheasant (state bird of Sikkim), Himalayan tahr and blue sheep —are all endangered wildlife species and found in Sikkim,” said Lepcha. “Our facility takes the initiative for these animals’ breeding while the Darjeeling park is a participating zoo in this case,” he added.

The additional director said a Rs 29 crore master plan for the Himalayan park had been submitted to the Central Zoo Authority last year to develop more breeding centres and other facilities. “We have received sanction for around 80 per cent of the project components,” said Lepcha. The Himalayan park is located at 5,840ft and is spread over 230 hectares.

MEANWHILE FROM THE PLAINS OF DARJEELING

Nature unit for bird life glimpse – for tourism potential to properly develop, Bengal must let Darjeeling and the Adivasis have an acceptable  political settlement soon ?!!

A peacock at Rasikbeel in Cooch Behar – royal beauty personified ?!! (Photo by Main Uddin Chisti)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Raiganj, July 1: A nature interpretation centre is set to open at the Kulik Bird Sanctuary here to provide detailed information on the migratory birds sighted there.

According to the officials, the centre would be able to woo more tourists to the sanctuary that is popular for various species of migratory birds like cormorant, night heron and open-billed stork, which fly thousands of kilometres to reach Kulik.

“Every year a number of migratory birds visit Kulik. Over the past few years our initiative to ensure food, habitat and security for them has borne fruit and the number of birds has increased. There is a rise in the number of visitors also,” said Apurba Sen, the divisional forest officer of Raiganj.

Open-billed storks at the Kulik Bird Sanctuary - no population control necessary ?!! (Photo by Nantu Dey)

The sanctuary is a hotspot for local people as well as tourists especially during winters. “Till date, the tourists could only see the birds during a particular stage of their lives. They did not get a chance to know about the entire life cycles of these avian species. That is why it was decided on March 2007 that a nature interpretation centre would be constructed in the sanctuary. The work has begun and we expect the unit to start functioning by October this year,” said Sen.

The centre will house pictures of several migratory birds that can be sighted in Kulik. “The complete life cycle of migratory birds that visit the sanctuary would be displayed through models. The visitors will also get information on birds’ food habits, their role in maintaining the ecological balance and behavioural patterns,” said the DFO.

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