Endangered pheasants from UK to join Darjeeling Zoo

Last Updated: Thursday, March 18, 2010 - 13:01

New Delhi: Brightly coloured Crimson
Horned and Crimson Bellied pheasants will soon be seen in West
Bengal`s Darjeeling zoo with steps being taken to bring the
winged birds from UK.

"Paradise Wildlife Park in UK has agreed to give us
four Satyr Tragopan (two male and female each) and eight (4:4)
Temminick Tragopan, both endangered pheasants," A K Jha,
director, Darjeeling Zoo which is also known as Padmaja
Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park said.

Veterinary protocol has been already prepared from
both sides in this regard. They will soon join our collection
of 80 pheasants, he says.

Satyr Tragopan also known as the Crimson Horned
Pheasant and Temminck`s Tragopan also called Crimson-bellied
Tragopan have been identified for the purpose of breeding
under the Central Zoo Authority`s conservation programme as
only a few are left in the wild.

"We have already given permission for the
translocation of these magnificent pheasants, which are among
63 critically endangered species identified for nationwide
conservation breeding programme," says CZA member secretary BS
Bonal.

The birds are commonly called "horned pheasants"
because of two brightly-coloured, fleshy horns on the heads of
the male that they can erect during courtship displays.

They are found in Himalayan reaches of India, China,
Nepal and Bhutan with an elevation ranging from 8,000 to
14,000 feet in summer and 6,000 feet in winter.

Unfortunately, their number is declining due to heavy
hunting pressure for their colourful feathers and meat and
extensive habitat loss due to increasing demand for
agricultural land and degradation.

"Initially the species being brought from UK will be
kept off display for breeding purpose and once their number
increases they will be open for visitor viewing," says Jha.

Darjeeling zoo which has been adjudged as best zoo in
the country is a treasure trove of a wide array of pheasants,
such as grey peacock pheasants, Red Jungle Fowl, Golden and
Silver Pheasants, Lady Amherst`s Pheasants besides other
threatened animals such as snow leopard and Red Panda.

It has also been identified for initiating breeding
programmes for seven more high altitude animals and birds such
as blue sheep, Himalayan tahr, Himalayan monal, grey peacock
pheasants, Himalayan blood pheasants besides Satyr tragopan.

"We are hoping to set up a peasantry (where some
pheasants will be kept) at Deer Park in Dow Hill, Kurseong.

Initial work has been started and we are waiting fund from the
CZA for the purpose," says the director.

Darjeeling zoo is the first zoo in the country to have
not only bred red pandas in captivity but also successfully
released them in the wild.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, March 18, 2010 - 13:01

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