Red Pandas of the Darjeeling Zoo are now a part of world heritage property. No efforts would be spared to save them and conservation of their future progenies from extinction, as the ‘World Wide Fund’ (WWF) for green has now joined hands with ‘WWF-Germany’ and Rotterdam Zoo of Netherlands to study the natural habitant in Kangchendzonga for their easy adaptability.
Darjeeling Zoo, known as Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, with present population of nine male and five female Red Pandas has caught global attention, thanks to its unique success in captive breeding of this endangered species. The Zoo, which started with only five Red Pandas in 1980 has been able to breed so far 47 kittens and most of them are still surviving, said the Zoo Director, AK Jha.
Jha and his colleague, Dr Sunita Pradhan, chief scientific officer of the Zoo, would be attending an workshop being organised by WFF and the other two international bodies in Gangtok on February 18-19 on Red Panda population and habitat viability assessment.
“The opinion of global experts followed by a scientific study and analysis of the eastern Himalayan eco-region complex including the Kangchendzonga region would of immense benefit to us. For, we intend to release in the wild more Red Pandas from our Zoo as the population here swells over the years beyond our control. In fact, we’re expecting some new members in the Red Panda family here in April-May after a few couples mated successfully in November-December last,” Jha said hailing the WWF initiative.
While the Zoo had released four Red Pandas in 2003 in the Singalia National Park free forest on the Darjeeling-Nepal border, one cub had been killed by a Leopard some time back. Three others are quite healthy and are roaming freely in the wild.
Besides these four, the Zoo has also donated a few Red Pandas to the zoological gardens in Simla, Nainital and Gangtok, Jha said.
Stating that the Darjeeling Zoo is the only place in Southeast Asia ‘mandated’ for practicing captive breeding of the Red Panda, Dr. Sunita Pradhan stressed that a healthy population and its steady growth of this global natural heritage is key to the survival of universal bio-diversity as well. For, it is the only species of its kind in the world, she added. (END)