Visakhapatnam

Endangered dholes to run free in Eastern Ghats

Stronger together: Research is going on into genetic differences between northern and southern dholes.

Stronger together: Research is going on into genetic differences between northern and southern dholes.  

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Captive-bred population of wild dog from Visakhapatnam zoo could establish itself in forest habitat

Endangered and hard-to-spot dholes, or Indian wild dogs, will soon test their fortunes in the Eastern Ghats. The Indira Gandhi Zoological Park (IGZP), running a conservation breeding centre for the species, plans to reintroduce a pack of 16 into the forests.

A suitable site for the “soft release” is under study, curator of IGZP B. Vijay Kumar said. “We are looking at 10 to 15 acres around Narsipatnam and Chintapalle regions near Visakhapatnam. A team will monitor the released animals and their progress for a season. Before they enter the forest, we will radio collar them,” he said.

The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad will map the genetic variability of the packs before they go into the wild. “The pack should be genetically strong and have the basic instinct to hunt,” Mr. Kumar said. The next phase is likely to involve a pack of 16 wild dogs. The first will have four males, eight females and four sub-adults.

Third effort

If the ₹1.5-crore conservation project works, it will be the third such zoo effort for the recovery and long-term survival of an endangered species.

Earlier, Darjeeling’s Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park had a programme for the red panda and a Pygmy Hog Conservation Programme was undertaken in Assam.

Protected under Schedule 2 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and listed as ‘endangered’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the dhole was adopted by IGZP in 2014 under the Central Zoo Authority’s mandate. The Visakhapatnam zoo has, since, successfully bred wild dogs from two packs taking the number from just two to 40. “Out of our four packs, two have been breeding successfully,” the curator said. A similar attempt in zoos in Chennai and Mysore did not meet with much success.

Dholes, with a cinnamon-coloured coat, bushy tail and an alert gaze, are aggressive pack predators, covering long distances on a hunt.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 3:22:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Visakhapatnam/endangered-dholes-to-run-free-in-eastern-ghats/article18379083.ece

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