Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bison Translocation - New Dimension in Conservation

The recent ongoing trans location of Bison or Gaur from Kanha to Bandhavgarh TR accords a new dimension to wildlife conservation in India. Earlier the trans location of the Swamp Deer from Kanha to Bandhavgarh had failed miserably. It resulted in the death of all the Swamp Deer being trans located.

It was not only tragic but a great loss as well since the swamp deer or Hard Ground Barasingha is a highly endangered sub species found only in Kanha. The swamp deer were being translocated to Bandhavgarh a habitat which holds no historical record or evidence of swamp deer ever present there. But that was way back.

With induction of new technologies and technique the Bison trans location to Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve would be more successful. Nature conservation in India is in a piteous state in spite of the country making long strides in every field. Whatever is said, nature is accorded a low priority here.

The conservation impetus thrives due to few individuals, NGO and some dedicated and committed officials who go unsung. The required political will is not there though there are exceptions.

The trans location of Bison is going to be a major challenge since the stock being translocated is not familiar with the terrain. The Bison in India are local migratory species and the migration pattern is strongly ingrained in the genes. The only hope is that the population was once interconnected before habitat destruction took place. This would mean presence of genetic traits which will help the coarse grazer to migrate to suitable pockets as seasons change.

But the challenge will remain, the threat from foot and mouth disease, rinderpest is for real. Until unless proper inoculation of live stock in the buffers takes place the whole exercise will be futile. I strongly believe that the local extinction of this bovine was due disease. There is no palpable reason why the stock would migrate to another habitat leaving the present habitat which is well conserved.

Another plus point is that both the tiger reserves are similar in habitat or forest types, though topography may differ. Bandhavgarh was the last and only strong hold of Gaur North of Narmada River. If the success takes place than the tragic local extinction would fade into history.

Though prevention is better than cure no one minds re-establishment of locally rare species. This is the case with Panna and Sariska as well. Spreading of rare genetic stocks in suitable habitats augurs greater survival chance.

Alarms bells should sound in case of Gir Lions a population enclosed in one habitat. An epidemic like FPL can wipe the whole population. Donating a pride to Palpur Kuno would mean one step forward in conservation. This in case of highly isolated lion population and only sub species in the World - Asiatic Lion.