GUWAHATI, June 12 � The Assam State Zoo-cum-Botanical Garden is poised to achieve another milestone by becoming a conservation breeding centre for the endangered golden langur (Trachypithecus geei). The initiative has been approved by the highest authorities, and a detailed proposal for building the expert team and construction of an enclosure is being prepared.
The initiative for ex-situ conservation of the endangered species intends to increase the population to a viable size which can be released in the wild at a later stage. It will help in conserving the species which has fewer than 2,500 mature individuals in the wild.
Speaking to The Assam Tribune, Utpal Bora, the Zoo DFO, said eight golden langurs are already present in the zoo, and more would be brought in, including a female from Umananda. He revealed that the new enclosure would allow the animals to breed in a scientifically designed environment. The facility would be beyond public access, he added.
Once completed, the facility would be a big boon to researchers and in time valuable knowledge can be gleaned about the species from continuous monitoring. In due course the zoo would be able to create a population of around 100 adults which can be released in the wild.
The Central Zoo Authority has given its consent to the initiative, and would check the proposal in the days ahead. It has also given the nod for conservation breeding programmes of a few other species which include the Indian rhino, grey peacock pheasant and golden cat, among others.
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the species is found in a small area between the rivers Manas and Sankosh spread over India and Bhutan. The golden langur population in India is highly fragmented and faces threats from human activities. Worryingly, the population has declined more than 30 per cent in the last three decades.
Destruction of habitat is the biggest threat facing the mammals, and satellite imagery suggests that extensive parts of their habitat in India have witnessed degradation or destruction.
One of the most striking langurs, the species was discovered by British naturalist Edward Pritchard Gee in the 1950s. Even before that, the local people of the Himalayan region considered it as a sacred animal.