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Mrunal Manmay Dash

Bhubaneswar: In a bid to save the Pangolins from extinction by gathering more information about their behaviour in the wild, the Odisha Forest Department is all set to set some pangolins from Nandankanan Zoological Park free in jungle with tracking devices embedded in them.

As per reports, the Nandankanan zoo, that had started a captive breeding research centre in their premises in 2008 with six pangolins, now boasts a population of 26 of them. Out of which 5-6 anteaters will be roped in for the research on which sophisticated infra red transmitting devices will be installed to track their habitat, movement, food habits and reproductive behaviour.

All in all, the ambitious project aims to provide more security and safety to the exotic animal which is on a brink of extinction thanks to an unabated poaching, by gathering more intricate information about their behavioural traits.

Speaking about the project, Odisha PCCF Wildlife, Sashi Paul said, “We are in contact with some foreign experts to obtain specialised transmitters. We hope to get them this year after which we can launch our programme.”

Primarily nocturnal and solitary animal, Pangolins are also called scaly anteaters because of their preferred diet. They are increasingly becoming victims of illegal wildlife crime—mainly in China and other parts of Asia and in growing amounts in Africa—for their meat and hide.

It is worthwhile to mention here that, Pangolins are the most illegally traded mammals of the world. They are listed in Schedule I of India’s Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, implying the highest degree of protection, and grouped as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. And killing them is an absolute ‘No’ in our country, but due to alleged administrative negligence poachers find it easy to kill them for trade.

“We will get more insights into their life through this project and will ultimately help us curb their trafficking in international market,” hoped, Sasmita Lenka, the Deputy Conservator Of Forest (Wildlife), Bhubaneswar.

Pangolins are in huge demand in Chinese black market. Sources said, the scales of these mammals are used to manufacture Chinese traditional medicine.

Notably, in December 2020, the Maharashtra government announced to bring a dedicated action plan for the conservation of pangolins, the first Indian state to do so.

(Edited By Suryakant Jena)

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