The Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (PNHZP), a premier institution in breeding and conservation of endangered animals, is gearing up for the release of four red pandas in the wild in October.
The process of identifying two males and two females is in progress to augment the red panda population in the wild. This will be a soft release where the animals will be first acclimatized to the environment where they will be released. The red pandas will be monitored for possible disease outbreak, predators and feeding habits in the new environment.
They will be released in Gairibas, which falls under the Singalila National Park, at an altitude of more than 7,000 feet above the sea level. The PNHZP, also known as the Darjeeling zoo, will use radio collars to track and monitor the animals before their final release after 4-5 months. The zoo will first create an intermediary facility at Gairibas for the red pandas with the staff strictly supervising the movement of the animals.
Zoo director Rajendra Jhakar said: “We hope to release the four red pandas within October. Our preparations are on in full swing,” he said. The ‘ailurus fulgens’, as the red pandas are scientifically called, is an endangered animal. The WWF estimates the red panda population at less than 10,000 mature individuals.
Restocking of the animal is done at the Singalila and Neora Valley national parks. According to direct sighting accounts and genetic analysis, currently there are 40-45 red pandas in the wild.
Source: Times of India