- Close on the heels of the project that translocated cheetahs from Namibia, the Indian government is considering a proposal from Colombo to export a number of gaurs, or Indian bisons, to Sri Lanka to revive the population of gavaras that have been extinct in the island since the end of the 17th century.
- If the project is cleared, it would be the first such agreement between India and Sri Lanka, and part of a global trend of “wildlife or zoological diplomacy.
- Sources said the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), which received the request in August, has now forwarded it to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), “seeking comments” on the proposal to transport at least six specimens, including a bull and three to five cows.
- According to the proposal, the Sri Lankan Department of Zoological Gardens would then carry out “captive breeding a herd of about a dozen specimens over a five-year period before trial reintroduction to the wild could take place in accordance with [internationally mandated] guidelines for reintroductions”.
- P. Yadav, Director, National Tiger Conservation Authority, said the proposal was being studied.
- If the conditions for translocation are right, such that the animal can sustainably thrive over there.
- The suggestion for the proposal came from Sri Lankan conservationist Rohan Pethiyagoda, who was awarded the Linnean medal 2022 (U.K.-based equivalent of the Nobel prize for zoology) for his work on restoring fresh water and forest biodiversity.
- As a scientific and cultural collaboration between our two countries, I felt this could be an immensely valuable initiative
- “India is without a doubt Sri Lanka’s closest friend, supporter and trading partner. We have a shared history, shared cultural identity, and shared gene,”
- Experts say that while “zoological diplomacy” had been practised worldwide, they draw a distinction between “gifts or loans” of animals in captivity to translocation and reintroduction of a species, particularly between neighbouring countries with similar eco-systems.
- Much depends on whether the conditions that caused the extinction have been removed but reintroduction has frequently been taken up between countries where the range is contiguous.
SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB