Pheasantry to come up at Chail in Himachal



Shimla: Chail in Shimla district will host the second largest pheasantry in the state. A pheasantry has already been functioning at Sarahan for parent raring of highly endangered western tragopan, but the project has not been much successful.
The new pheasantry will be spread over an area of four hectares, and will be an important centre for captive breeding of birds. To begin with, endangered species of pheasants would be brought here for breeding purpose and later even local wild species would be brought under the project.
Besides breeding pans, incubators and quarantine room, big enclosures for training of chicks under parents before their release into the wild will also be built.
John Corder, a conservation-breeding expert from the World Pheasants Association, will also be associated with the project.

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  1. Having served in the Forest Department of H.P. for 6 years (2001 – 2007) just before leaving for Australia, I am in a positon to give comments about the situation of endangered pheasants in H.P.

    In my opinion we are not going to get any success by building big pheasantries or by pumping huge money as we dont have enough birds in captivity to make natural breeding a success to begin with. The need of the hour is to introduce Artificial Insemination and mass breed these birds before experiments of natural rearing are tried. It is high time authorities should realize that by the time they end up with each enclosure of half the size of a football field our founder stock would be getting old and there would be a problem of replenshing it. I can already anticipate this thing. Gimmicks like declaring Western Tragopan as State bird on paper is not going to help in any way.

    Moreover as no DNA analysis of the extant founders has been done, just imagine that after 5-8 years where we find ourselves in a situation that we are breeding a related stock in terms of genetic diversity as far as species survival is concerned at the national ( in this case global) level.

    It is unfortunate that despite voluntary proposals by an Interantional expert Mr. Francy Hermans from Belgium, common sense in running such valuable projects has not prevailed and they been hijacked by some people for personal selfish gains.

    Moreover, just to let all the readers know that it is not that difficult to breed these pheasants, even Western Tragopans by Artificial Insemination (AI). I happened to learn Artificial Insemination in Belgium in May 2007 and was able to produce around 65 chicks of Tragopans just in one month (with a fertility success rate of 100 %) !! This figure is 5 times higher than what has been produced as Sarahan Pheasantry in last 20 years despite spending huge infrastructural and salary costs.

    Personally I think that huge Govt. exchequer can be saved in case we go in these projects by producing birds through AI in the begining and can experiment later with other ways once it come to reintroduction.

    Another question that has not been addressed in any of the ongoing projects is that of reintroduction. i.e. do we have enough birds to reintroduce in the wild. The clear answer is a BIG NO and in case we dont make drastic changes in these projects (which are unlikey to happen for reasons expalined above) the ultimate sufferer would be the birds and genuine bird lovers all across the globe as Himachal is the Hot Spot for this beautiful bird.

    Presently I'm pursuing a PhD in Cryopreservation of Semen of rattites and pheasnts in Australia.

    I know I have been too lenghty in my comment but it pains to see that my people are merely acting as puppets with the remote being controlled from some other place. I wish good luck (despite the fact that it is not going to work) to the concerned people and still willing to extend my help incase genuinly asked for.

  2. I want to draw the attention of the reader upon my tragopan fotopages with date 24 June 2006 (see website above) for any further details and phtographs upon the subject matter. Furthermore, I am adding some comments written by my friend Mr. Kauschlendra Singh, on the the same matter.

    Sarahan , Himachal Pradesh, India is Home to Western Tragopan ( Tragopan melanocephalus ).

    On one side you see snow clad mountains and picturesque hills green with conifers and on the otherside aviaries with magnificent western tragopans ( 4 males and 3 females),to sum up the whole scene it is a phasianists piligrimage,cool crisp climate is perfect for both tragopans and humans,brilliant sunshine during the day is soothing and more than welcome.

    Sarahan is 170 kms away from Shimla the state capitalof Himachal Pradesh and a earstwhile hill station or the summer resort of the Britishers.

    The distance has its own advantages and disadvantages,being far away the place is not crowded and has few local visitors so it is quiet and free of diseases and infections, at the same time the distance is a constraint for proper monitoring by senior officers and emergency requirements.Hence subject to official approval a second site may come up near shimla at place called Kufri which is a skiing resort for Tourists.

    Efforts are on to develop the pheasantry into a result oriented breeding centre for this rare species and some others like Monal,Koklass and Cheer. So,both the State govt and the Govt of India are financing the project and lot of attention is being paid.

    People involved are whole heartedly striving hard to overcome minor problems like good quality balanced feed,incubators,power back up,brooding facilities and veterinary management,the experience so far gained shows that a healthy flock of bantams is a must to overcome incubator and power failures.

    Efforts are underway to try and breed the natural way and also use artificial insemination techniques for a faster and a more sure positive results.The later method is the answer for raising a reasonable breeding nucleus as the fear of losing some birds can never be ruled out which can be a set back to such a ambitious project.

    Phasianists from all over the world are welcome to visit Sarahan and support the endeavour wholeheartedly.

    written by Mr. Kaushlendra Singh, Lucknow, India

  3. Francy Hermans

    Thanks for providing information on the Western Tragopan breeding program at Saharan.

    The first time I did see that Peasantry was in the early 1990's and it was then claimed that the first tragopan was bred in captivity.

    You must have heard about Sanjeeva Pandey.

    However, the breeding program that is being tried at the peasantry now has reported some encouraging results, though in 2006 doubts about the whole program had been raised.

    Here I need to state one more fact. I'm one of those who has seen the Western Tragopan in the wild.

    This was in the autumn of 2003, when I was out trekking in the Great Himalayan National Park along the Tirthan river.

    Setting out from a camping site, early in the morning on one turn, there before me was the Jijjurana, the king of birds.

    For me it remains a heavenly moment, firmly embedded in memory.

    Seeing the lone male in all it majesty in the wild, makes me an ardent supporter for making all efforts to conserve this bird for future generations.

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