The advanced research institute for wild species, proposed to be set up in Vandalur zoo, will come up on a portion of land earlier earmarked for a night safari project.
In 2007, a night safari was proposed on the 92-hectare rescue and rehabilitation centre of the Anna Arignar Zoological Park at a cost of Rs. 256 crore but the project was shelved due to paucity of funds.
Now, around five acres of that space will be used to set up the advanced research centre for wild species. “The new centre will be a state-of-the-art facility for research on rare species, especially endangered ones, including the lion-tailed macaque (LTM) and Nilgiri langur,” said an official of the State forest department.
The Advanced Institute of Wildlife Conservation Centre (AIWCC) will be set up at a cost of Rs. 27.13 crore and will provide information on wildlife, apart from hosting a research laboratory.
It will feature four divisions — on migratory birds, survival of species, genetic study and education. On the migratory birds, the centre will study the migratory pattern, routes, species and locations they visit.
The species survival division will deal with specific studies on 13 identified indigenous species including LTM, Nilgiri langur, elephants, tigers and black sheep, while the genetic division will look into gene composition and associated functions.
The education division will deal with publication of research papers and dissemination of the studies conducted at the centre.
The Anna Arignar Zoological Park, popularly known as Vandalur zoo, is spread across 602 hectares and is home to 1,541 animals. It attracts more than two million visitors every year. Currently, wildlife researchers attached to the forest department are involved in the collection of basic materials such as cells, eggs and tissues of endangered species, for research. The past six months, they have travelled to various forest research institutes in the country to collect the material.
The centre will also have branches in Kodaikarai, Kanyakumari and Coimbatore. As per estimates, the centre in Vandalur will need at least two scientists and four junior-level researchers. A deputy director has already been appointed.