Guwahati: Nineteen swamp deer have been translocated for the first time in the country from Kaziranga National Park to Manas National Park in Assam.
The capture process was initiated on December 9 last in the presence of Dr Markus Hofmyr of SANParks, South Africa and other experts and they were released in the Manas yesterday, Assam Forest Minister Rakibul Hussain said today.
A team of experts from Assam Forest Department (AFD), Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and Assam College of Veterinary Science monitored the entire process and part of an ongoing project supported by ONGC.
Popularly known as 'Barasingha', the entire population of this sub-species of eastern swamp deer is currently found only in Kaziranga.
The animals travelled more than 400 kms and were released in a specially prepared enclosure or boma in Manas which is secured by a two-line power fence installed over a barrier to deter leopards.
The enclosure was also flooded and short grass was brought from nearby areas for transplantation to ensure well- being of the herd.
"This is a great moment in the history of wildlife conservation in India when we have shown to the world a successful mass capture of Eastern Swamp Deer for the first time in the country," Hussain said.
"The team worked as a cohesive unit and ensured that the entire exercise progressed smoothly. It is a moment of great pride for the Assam Forest Department and we are happy to be a part of this historic experiment," Assam Chief Wildlife Warden R P Agarwalla said.
Post-capture, these deer for the first few months will be kept in the boma (enclosure) and would later be released in the park in batches, a WTI spokesman said.
Some of them would be kept in the boma for breeding purposes. Since this would be the source population for Manas National Park, stringent arrangements have been made to ensure their welfare.
Renowned conservation and animal welfare biologist, Dr Markus Hofmyr was flown in specially from South Africa to support the capture exercise, he said.
AFD and WTI have collaborated with ONGC since 2010 to launch an ecological research programme-- the 'Eastern Swamp Deer Conservation Project' in Kaziranga National Park.
The aim of the project was to understand the ecology of the eastern swamp deer and develop management strategies for conservation of their last surviving population in India.
The project which focusses on findings on diet, genetic constitution and behaviour provided useful insight for scientific management of the sub-species in Kaziranga, along with creating a second home for the eastern swamp deer in Manas National Park, he said.
"Considering the urgency of saving endangered eastern swamp deer species, ONGC has undertaken a specially designed CSR project in association with WTI and AFD to help save the species from extinction," ONGC's Director (HR) Desh Deepak Misra said.