Himachal Pradesh in trouble over tragopan breeding

 
By VIKAS VASUDEVA
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

The western tragopan of Himach (Credit: Francy Hermans)the wildlife department of Himachal Pradesh is now in a muddle. Its pheasant-breeding programme lacks experts. The Rs 5-crore Sarahan pheasantry, which saw the world's first-ever successful captive breeding of western tragopans in June 2005, has failed to breed any this season. The International Union for Conservation Nature (iucn) blames it on the state, which moved most of its trained project staff.

The western tragopan (Tragopan melanocephalus), locally known as jujurana, is globally threatened and is enlisted under cites . The Sarahan pheasantry is an effort to raise the species' population to a sustainable level. The successful 2005 project was carried out under the guidance of John Corder, an international conservationist and breeding expert from the World Pheasants Association (wpa). Of late, the state has again asked iucn to nominate an expert who could act as a consultant, specifically for the husbandry and propagation of western trapogan and cheer pheasants in captivity.

In a response to the state government's request, Peter J Garson, co-chairperson of the pheasant specialist group of iucn , says that Corder had done a commendable job as consultant. A letter to the wildlife department by Garson notes that the documents sent by the department implied that the survival and breeding success of both cheer pheasant and western tragopan had declined in the pheasantries during the period when Corder was involved.

But Garson's letter to the Central Zoo Authority and the wpa seems to suggest otherwise: prior to Corder's visit to Sarahan, Shimla district, the average life expectancy for a western tragopan was around four months, whereas not a single pheasant died in the first three years of his involvement. In 2004, a female tragopan chick was successfully raised to adulthood, which is the only offspring to survive since 1993. Garson has further pointed out that most of the experienced staff, who had received specific training in the uk , are no longer with the project. These circumstances had a detrimental effect on the breeding success of the pheasants in the aviaries since June 2005.

"The department has initiated the process to use the services of Corder again," Vinay Tandon, principal chief conservator of forests, said. "We are in the course of getting back the services of experts and probably in the next breeding season we will see positive results," Tandon said.the wildlife department of Himachal Pradesh is now in a muddle. Its pheasant-breeding programme lacks experts. The Rs 5-crore Sarahan pheasantry, which saw the world's first-ever successful captive breeding of western tragopans in June 2005, has failed to breed any this season. The International Union for Conservation Nature (iucn) blames it on the state, which moved most of its trained project staff.

The western tragopan (Tragopan melanocephalus), locally known as jujurana, is globally threatened and is enlisted under cites . The Sarahan pheasantry is an effort to raise the species' population to a sustainable level. The successful 2005 project was carried out under the guidance of John Corder, an international conservationist and breeding expert from the World Pheasants Association (wpa). Of late, the state has again asked iucn to nominate an expert who could act as a consultant, specifically for the husbandry and propagation of western trapogan and cheer pheasants in captivity.

In a response to the state government's request, Peter J Garson, co-chairperson of the pheasant specialist group of iucn , says that Corder had done a commendable job as consultant. A letter to the wildlife department by Garson notes that the documents sent by the department implied that the survival and breeding success of both cheer pheasant and western tragopan had declined in the pheasantries during the period when Corder was involved.

But Garson's letter to the Central Zoo Authority and the wpa seems to suggest otherwise: prior to Corder's visit to Sarahan, Shimla district, the average life expectancy for a western tragopan was around four months, whereas not a single pheasant died in the first three years of his involvement. In 2004, a female tragopan chick was successfully raised to adulthood, which is the only offspring to survive since 1993. Garson has further pointed out that most of the experienced staff, who had received specific training in the uk , are no longer with the project. These circumstances had a detrimental effect on the breeding success of the pheasants in the aviaries since June 2005.

"The department has initiated the process to use the services of Corder again," Vinay Tandon, principal chief conservator of forests, said. "We are in the course of getting back the services of experts and probably in the next breeding season we will see positive results," Tandon said.

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.