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Joint effort of State Forest Dept and Wildlife Institute of India Studies on to find fresh home for Sangai
Source: The Sangai Express / Ninglun Hanghal

New Delhi, June 24 2012: The process of identifying a 'second home and subsequently relocating Manipur's rare endangered species Sangai, Rucervus eldi eldi, is underway at the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun in collaboration with the State Forest Department.

Dr Syed Ainul Hussain, a scientist at the Institute told The Sangai Express, that seven sites have been identified out of which five reserved forest were practically surveyed .

This include reserved forest in Langol, Sambei, Heingang, Pumlenpat and adjoining Thongam Mondum hill lock, Thoubal Ikoppat, while Kaihlam wild-life sanctuary, Yangouchaobi, Lokchao, Nongmaiching could not be surveyed due to 'law and order' situation.

The institute suggested that Heingang reserved forest would be a good option.

Another ideal habitat for Sangai according to Dr Hussain is Kaihlam Wildlife Sanctuary which he said has less human habitation.

He went to add that problems of poaching and social issues in terms of land holding in hill areas of Manipur cannot be ruled out.

An interim report on the rapid assessment of the proposed reintroduction sites by Wildlife Institute of India for relocation of the Sangai, stated that all these identified reserved forest are not free from destructive factors such as human encroachment, resource exploitation , forest degradation due to fishing, farming, hunting, tourism.



The rare Sangai in the wild
The rare Sangai in the wild


One major factor that threatens the existence of the Sangai is the thinning of its habitat Phumdi at 9 pc per annum.

This according to the Institute is due to change in water regime, wherein Phumdis that settle down in lean season are today floating permanently which has resulted in decrease of its thickness.

Another reason being continuous activity on the Phumdi.

Dr Hussain said construction of Ithai Barrage had also led to overflow of water into the Loktak lake that has also led to the deterioration of phumdis.

Recovery plan, a project initiated in 2009 by the Institute stated that Sangai is one of the most endangered deer species in the world.

Once believed to be extinct , a small population of about 14 Sangai were discovered in the southern fringe of Loktak lake in 1975.Subsequently the habitat was declared a national park Keibul Lamjao.

Since then it witnessed positive sign and the population increase at the rate of 9 % and by 2003 there were approximately 180 Sangais.

Nevertheless it observed that this small Sangai population gradually became extremely vulnerable due to threats on its habitat, most importantly thinning of the Phumdi.

"Today there are less than 100 sangai as per the census of 2006 2008" said Dr.Hussain.

While other factors include , pollution , poaching and developmental projects.

The recovery plan outlay noted that protection and conservation of this threatened species is costly and likely to invite conflict.

The plan outlay summarised that availability of land is limited, which is also a major concern, as such the plan proposes to preserve the population and restore the habitat and advocate establishment of a second home.

The detail budget was estimated at the cost of Rs 277,25,000 .

The first instalment of about Rs 40 lakhs have already been sanctioned , while there is no information on the remaining amount informed Dr Hussain.

Passionately talking about protecting the endangered Sangai Dr Hussain said the message is "save Sangai" He explained that the process to relocate Sangai is to keep them in Wild , the new relocation site termed the second home would be a 'breeding ground' which is a process of a long term conservation unlike keeping them in the zoo, which according to the Scientist is captivity that eventually is unhealthy for the Sangai population.

On asked whether the Sangai will survive in the new home, which is not a wet Phumdi their natural and historical habitat Hussain said " they can live on hard ground" .


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