February 18, 2014 2:24:07 am
The rusty-spotted cats at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) in Borivali, could soon get fancy enclosures. The national park authorities are planning to approach the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) with a proposal to redesign the enclosure of the world’s smallest wild cat under their conservation captive breeding programme. At present, there are three males, two females and a cub at the national park.
The forest department will redesign the enclosure based on suggestions of Frankfurt zoo’s zookeeper Annie Fuchs who visited the national park last week. Frankfurt zoo is the only other zoo in the world that practises conservation breeding of the rusty spotted cat.
According to the Fuchs, the enclosure should have more greenery and accommodate multi-level box-like structures that the arboreal wild cats can climb on. While the national park now provides only chicken to the cats, Fuchs suggested a variety in food including fish, as well as introduction of play time for the cats.
SGNP invited the zookeeper to understand how the Frankfurt zoo has successfully witnessed births of at least 15 rusty spotted cats with no mortalities.
The authorities are awaiting a list of ‘dos and don’ts’ from Bharati Vidyapeeth University, Pune, which is a collaborator for the breeding programme. “We will approach the CZA only after after we receive the list from the university, which is likely to arrive within 10 days,” said Vikas Gupta, chief conservator of forests, SGNP.
At SGNP, the cubs were separated from the mother within a month to avoid attack on the cubs by its mother, as cannibalism is prevalent in these cats. Fouchs, however, suggested keeping the cubs and their mother together for at least 9 months to allow them to bond while supplying sufficient food to avoid cannibalistic tendencies.
The Frankfurt zoo practises conservation breeding of the Sri Lankan species of the wild cat, while SGNP is the only one in the world to practice conservation breeding of the Indian species. “We do conservation breeding with the goal of releasing them in the wild again. We can do this, because the cat is an indigenous species-unlike the case with Frankfurt zoo,” said Gupta.
The park began the conservation captive breeding programme after the a grant of Rs 21 lakh was passed in November 2013.
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