Wildlife translocations are a powerful conservation strategy that turn back the conservation clock for endangered species.
Through these translocations, endangered species are reintroduced to protected habitats, preserving biodiversity by either preventing or reversing local extinctions (the absence of a species or animal from a particular area). However the planning and execution complexities around the successful capture, transport and release of the animals calls for years of honed expertise.
In June 2005, the need for a proactive approach to dwindling wildlife populations and local extinctions within India’s Madhya
Pradesh reserves had been identified, but, as Dr Pabla, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) explains:
We had almost stopped thinking about the reintroduction of endangered species in protected habitats – primarily due to our lack of experience.
Fortuitously, this was when we were expanding our operation to India as Taj Safaris Ltd in this same Madhya Pradesh region. Following exploratory discussions with Dr Pabla and Sarath Champathi, our Senior Naturalist, India’s first gaur (Indian bison) translocation project was born and shaped by our thirty years of frontline-expertise gained in the creation of &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve.
The translocations of 50 gaur from Madhya Pradesh’s Kanha National Park to the Bandhavgarh National Park took a
lengthy six years from conception to completion and was done in two batches: 19 in 2011 and 31 in 2012.
This was a public-private collaboration on a global scale that involved the specialist skills of Les Carlisle,
our Group Conservation Manager, Mridula Tangirala, Director Operations Taj Safaris Ltd, the government
and forestry departments of Madhya Pradesh, the Indian government and the Wildlife Institute of India.
Over and above the conservation benefits of this translocation and reintroduction, the project included the skills-building
of the Madhya Pradesh forestry officers through hands-on training, together with the development of management, monitoring and veterinary translocation protocols.
Among the 50 gaur relocated were some pregnant females, who subsequently gave birth to healthy calves – a powerful testimony to the success of this conservation venture.
Following this inaugural reintroduction of the 50 gaur, a remarkable legacy ripple of translocations within the Madhya Pradesh region was set in motion:
Khanha, Pench, Bandhavgarh to Panna to Satpura and Sanjay N.P.*; Bandhavgarh to Satpura N.P.*
From Kanha to Bandhavgarh N.P.*
Barasingha (Swamp Deer)
Kanha to Satpura N.P.*
From Seoni to Kanha N.P.*
Mandsaur to Gandhi Sagar Sanctuary