Lifestyle Environment 12 Sep 2016 Captive animals to t ...

Captive animals to the wild: Forest wing rules out rustication

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published Sep 12, 2016, 6:53 am IST
Updated Sep 12, 2016, 7:24 am IST
The reasoning was that their zoo population has proliferated beyond the spatial capacity and was putting a strain on the state exchequer.
The Forest Department argues that returning captive animals, including domesticated elephants, would disrupt the social balance of the wild and expose wild animals to new kinds of diseases. 	— DC File
 The Forest Department argues that returning captive animals, including domesticated elephants, would disrupt the social balance of the wild and expose wild animals to new kinds of diseases. — DC File

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: At a time when the clamour to return captive animals back to the wild has turned shriller, the Forest Department has emphatically put its foot down saying such a move is "unwarranted". The Department argues that it would disrupt the social balance of the wild and expose wild animals to new kinds of diseases. It says that a captive animal, including a domesticated elephant, should be released into the wild only if there is a need to increase the genetic diversity within a forest area.

A plan was mooted recently to release a number of zoo-bred species like chital, black buck and sambhar deer back into their habitats in the wild. The reasoning was that their zoo population has proliferated beyond the spatial capacity and was putting a strain on the state exchequer. The MoEF had way back in 1995 had warned: "It will have to be considered that the unplanned release of animals in the wild is the largest single known cause for the extinction of fauna in the wild."

Familiarity with humans is another reason why zoo animals should not be released into the wild. "Frequent interaction has erased in them the fear of humans. So when such animals are put back in the wild they will as a matter of habit stray into human settlements and end up as crop raiders," a top Forest Department official said. There is another danger.

Zoo animals, even domesticated elephants, carry pathogens of many infectious diseases. If at all a captive animal has to be 'rusticated', the Department says that it should be done only after ensuring that the animal is freed of any traces of pathogens. “It is also preferable to release the captive animals into a habitat which either has a very sparse population or no population of the species that is to be released,” the official said.

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Location: India, Kerala




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