In essence, they turn back the conservation clock. Through these reintroductions, endangered species are returned 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 that their lack of wildlife translocation experience was holding them back, and that they had almost stopped thinking about the reintroduction of endangered species.
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 bovine) translocation project was born and shaped by our thirty years of frontline-expertise gained in the creation of &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve.
We had almost stopped thinking about the reintroduction of endangered species.
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.