Plans to introduce wildlife in Tilpath Biodiversity Park
Authorities in Delhi are planning to rewild the Tilpath Valley Biodiversity Park (TVBP) with deer and antelopes such as chital, blackbuck and chousingha.
Experts working on the project said that the presence of prey would bring back carnivores such as leopards, hyenas and wolves. While the park authorities have found pugmarks of leopards and hyena, a leopard was spotted by locals in February.
“Plans are going on for re-wilding the Tilpath Valley Biodiversity Park with species of deer and antelopes. There won’t be any cages or enclosures and the animals would be free. This initiative was taken up after discussions with the lieutenant governor (L-G). The vice-chairman of DDA was also briefed about the initiative,” said CR Babu, professor emeritus and head of the Centre for Environmental Management of Degraded Ecosystem (CEMDE) at Delhi University.
The TVBP is one of the six biodiversity parks in Delhi and was inaugurated in February 2018. Spread over 69 acres and nestled between Tughlaqabad and Asola Bhati wildlife sanctuary, the landscape of the park includes grasslands, hilly terrains, ridges, valleys and streams with various kinds of forests.
At least 105 species of plant, 103 species of birds, 32 species of butterflies, 15 species of herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians) and eight mammalian species have been recorded here, including large population of Indian rock python, small cat, jackals, and neelgai.
“As the plan is for re-wilding the park and not to create a zoo, no zoo-bred animals would be released. For this, we are also trying to identify the source. We are consulting an expert from Madhya Pradesh who has years of experience in translocating wild animals including tigers, deer and antelopes,” said Faiyaz Ahmed Khudsar, lead scientist, Biodiversity Parks programme.
Even though animals like deer, antelope and smaller carnivores were once found abundantly in this part of the country they gradually vanished as their habitat was destroyed. With the development of such parks, the animals are gradually returning. A family of hog deer has been spotted in the Yamuna Biodiversity Park and a leopard was also sighted two years ago.
“Planning would be necessary to maintain the ecological balance and the sex ratio of the animals. We would also have to find a place where excess animals could be released if their population swells. But one advantage is that the park is almost contiguous with the Asola Bhatti and the dense forests of Aravallis in Haryana is also nearby. Animals would be able to move out,” said Khudsar.
Experts said that a 12-17 feet fence would have to be built in some parts of the park so that the animals do not stray into human habitat. “We hope to complete the process within a year,” said Babu.
DN Singh, former head of the Central Zoo Authority of India, said, as some of the animals such as the blackbuck are protected authorities would have to get necessary permission from the ministry of environment and forest.