1. Long Distance Road Transportation of Hippopotamus
    2. Population Control By Segregation Of Blackbucks At Kanpur Zoo
    3. Biosecure feed store at Kanpur Zoological Park
    4.Chimpanzee enclosure enrichment
2. Population Control By Segregation Of Blackbucks At Kanpur Zoo

Introduction-The Indian Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra), is one of the three species of antelopes found in Northern India. The blackbuck is a medium-sized antelope native to the Indian sub-continent. Although native to the Indian subcontinent, considerable numbers of blackbuck are currently found in the U.S.A and Argentina, where they were introduced over 80 years ago. In the U.S.A, blackbuck are mainly found on game ranches in the state of Texas.

The Blackbuck is considered to be the fastest animal in the world next to Cheetah. It shows remarkable sexual dimorphism. Males are larger in size compared to females. The colouration of the skin coat in males is more conspicuous which is striking black (or dark brown) above and white under parts and have a pair of un- branched, 'corkscrew' and diverging horns on each side of head. While the coats of females and immature males are a more subdued light brown and white. The females are hornless.

The Population has declined throughout the country due to rampant poaching and habitat loss. Subsequently within a short span of time this animal has suffered much reduction in numbers. In the pre independent India the animal was poached for its flesh and skin by the rulers of the princely states with the help of their pet Cheetas. Due to habitat destruction the animal got restricted to limited area and this lead to inbreeding in these animals. Post independence the Blackbuck is included in the Schedule-I of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and is designated as Vulnerable as per Red Data Book (1994).

Social organisation: group-living-Blackbucks are typically found in groups which are variable in size. The main types of groups are female groups (adult females and immatures of both sexes), all-male groups (adult and immature males), and mixed-sex groups (adults and immatures of both sexes). Females, who leave their group to give birth and are solitary for a large part of the time, while their fawns are very young (Mungall 1978, Ranjitsinh 1982, Prasad 1983, Isvaran 2003). They may join, split and re-form several times during a day.

Breeding Biology and Population dynamics-The Blackbucks are one of the important animals in the zoo collection. The endangered animals breed very well when they are given proper protection. Female Blackbuck attains maturity at around 2 years and are ready to breed. Blackbucks breed in all seasons but main rut takes place between February to May and August to October. The gestation period is about 5-6 months. Usually only one young is born at a time. About two weeks after giving birth, females become receptive again. Although an adult female can potentially give birth twice a year, average fecundity is reported to be 1 or 1.5 fawns per year (Schaller 1967, Mungall 1978).

The life span of Blackbuck is between 12 to 16 years. The female can start breeding from the age of two years and more. One female is expected to breed about nine to Fifteen individual fawns in its life period. The rate of birth can be upto two fawns per year and the fecundity was 1.5 times. If this goes well then the above figures will go up by another half times.

In Zoological parks the animals get proper protection, balanced diet and proper medication. Thus with the above breeding biology the numbers of the animals goes up very fast. Kanpur Zoological Park has at present about 70 animals in its collection. The nos of them more than doubled in the last ten years. The mortality rate of the animals also has gone up as the space for the animals had crossed the carrying capacity of the enclosures.

According to the norms set by Central Zoo Authority the number of herbivores in an enclosure should be restricted to 15- 20 animals. In Kanpur Zoological Park presently the Blackbucks are kept in two different enclosures. Thus, according to the norms, set by CZA, the total number of animals that can be conserved should not be more than 30 40.The mortality in these animals also has gone up in the last few years. The main cause of the deaths was due to infighting injuries. Thus it clearly indicates that the carrying capacity of the enclosures has crossed and the death rate of the animals is on the rise. The total number of animals is remaining around 70.Which may be the carrying capacity of these enclosures. To fulfil the norms set by CZA and to reduce the mortality and infighting of the animals, various population control methods were discussed at length and the best in the present circumstances appeared segregating the males and female Blackbuck populations.Male and Female Blackbucks Separated

Methodology of Separation of Blackbucks-

The arrangements made before separating the animals- In Kanpur Zoological park the Blackbucks are present in two different enclosures of about 3000 sq mts each. The enclosure which comes first on the visitor circulation road is called the Blackbuck I enclosure and the one which comes next is called Blackbuck II enclosure. In Blackbuck I enclosure the outdoor enclosure is in the form of an ellipse extending along the road. For the purpose of this article it is called the outdoor enclosure I. On the side away from the road is situated the animal house, on one side of the ellipse. There is some space between the enclosure and the boundary wall. This space has been utilised to prepare another enclosure for separating the gender. Chain link mesh has been erected in such a way that the space parallel to the enclosure and the boundary wall has been closed leaving a passage to reach the entry gate of the animal house. This for the purpose of this article is called outside enclosure II. Thus the animal house remained between the two outdoor enclosures. The animal house has a kraal and the treatment cells, all these are interconnected.The treatment cells on one side open in to the kraal and on otherside open in to a gallery. The treatment cells through and the kraal open in to the outside enclosure through two separate doors. The chain link mesh of the outdoor enclosure II has been placed in such a way that the door of the treatment cells opens in to it. The door of the kraal opens in to the outdoor enclosure I.Before separation all the animals were in outdoor enclosure I.

The Blackbuck II enclosure the outdoor enclosure is square in shape. On one end of the enclosure, the animal house is located. The house has a big kraal and cells for treatment of the animals. The kraal is divided in to two halves with the help of chain link mesh. For the purpose of this article lets us call the two kraal compartments as kraal 1 and kraal 2.The kraal compartments have a sliding door of 5ft * 4ft in between. This slider door can be operated from outside the enclosure with the help of long handle, without disturbing the animals. This door helps in separating the animals according to need and giving the preferential feed to the animals. Two doors one from each kraal open in to the outdoor enclosure. The outdoor enclosure has been divided in to two equal halves with the help of chain link mesh of 2.10 mts height .This height was preferred as the blackbucks do not generally cross the other side of the fence with this height. Chainlink construction started from one end touching the visitor side wall and the moat to the animal house on the other end. For the purpose of the article let the two outside enclosures be called outside enclosure 1 and outside enclosure 2.Platforms for the green fodder and tank for drinking water have been developed on each side of the fence in the outdoor enclosure. The fence was extended up to the animal house, so that one door of the kraal opens in to one side of the chain link and the other door opens on to the other side of the chain link fence. Before finally erecting the chain link fence all the animals both males and females were driven to one side of the fence in to the outside enclosure 1. So that the other half open enclosure is free of animals.

Modus eperandi- The feed in the form of soaked Bengal gram and the feed mix prepared by the Zoo, which has various pulses, cereals etc., in its composition is given to the animals around 10.30am every day. The animals regularly visit the kraal for the feed daily. Advantage of this situation was utilised for separating the males and females very easily.

Blackbuck I Enclsoure- On the day of separation the door of the kraal and the treatment cells opening in to the enclosure were closed. The feed was placed in the kraal. The animals were allowed in small groups of three to four. These animals were then taken in to the treatment cells. Where the males were separated in the cells. The door of the cells opens in to the gallery, from where the door opens in to the enclosure -II. So the cells in which males are present have been opened and were allowed to escape through the gallery to the door of the treatment cells leading in to the enclosure II. Thus all the males were sent in to the enclosure II.

Blackbuck II Enclsoure-On the first day of separation, the doors of the kraal opening in to the outside enclosure 1and 2 were closed. When the feed arrived the feed was placed in both the kraal compartments 1and 2 and the slide door between the kraal compartment is closed. The animals started collecting near the kraal door. About three to four animals were allowed inside the kraal -1. All permutation and combination of sexes entered in to the kraal. Making use of the sliding door the preferred animals (males) were allowed to enter into the other compartment of the kraal -2. Once the male enters the other compartment the slide door is pushed and the male is separated. The door opening in to the outside enclosure -2 was opened and the animal is sent in to the other side of the enclosure fence. The remaining females in the kraal - 1 compartment is sent back in to the outside enclosure -1. This was repeated several times and the animals were separated very easily without injuring any of the animals. But after few operations the animals started avoiding the kraal, once this situation arose the operation was discontinued for the day and was repeated the next day. Thus with repeated operations all the males were separated.

Acknowledgments-I am thankful to Mr.B.K. Patnaik, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Wildlife, U.P.,Mr.B.S. Bonal, Member Secretary, Central Zoo Authority, New Delhi, Mr.K.K.Jha, Chief Conservator of Forests, Eco Development, U.P for their constant encouragement and support in developing this article. I thank the staff of the zoological park, Kanpur in successful implementation of the programme.

Gallery Home Profile Gallery Contact