Some call it the original chicken. Rightly so, because the Red Jungle Fowl — Gallus gallus as it is known scientifically — is considered the ancestor of domestic breeds of fowls.
Though not many would be able to tell the difference between a regular domestic hen and the Red Jungle Fowl, the zoo authorities say the latter has been ruthlessly killed for meat in its native places, mostly in Himachal Pradesh.
The numbers went down so drastically that it was included in the list of endangered species prompting the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) to launch a conservation breeding initiative for it few years ago.
The National Zoological Park, also called the Delhi Zoo, was one of the identified centres, where the programme has been running for a few years.
“It has turned out to be quite a successful programme. In fact, the Chief Wildlife Warden is looking into areas for release of Red Jungle Fowl,” said CZA member secretary BS Bonal.
Delhi Zoo curator (education) Riaz Ahmed Khan said, “As on March 2010, we had 102 Red Jungle Fowls, including 42 males.”
“The other species for which this programme is run are Brow Antler Deer (Manipur Deer), Lion, Tiger and the Rhino.”