INDIA – &Beyond has been at the forefront of a groundbreaking mass translocation of 19 gaur (Indian bison) to restore the species in Bandhavgarh National Park. To date, the project has been the first successful mass translocation of wild bovines in India, and has laid the foundation for further specialised wildlife relocations in the central state of Madhya Pradesh.
The 19 gaur were immobilised by veterinary specialists in Kanha National Park and transported in purpose built vehicles to Bandhavgarh National Park, adjacent to &Beyond Mahua Kothi Jungle Lodge. They were held in a pen for observation, and then released into a large holding boma for acclimatisation. Once they have settled they will be released into the wild – a process never before undertaken in India.
As a pioneer in responsible sustainable tourism, &Beyond’s model of restoring and conserving biodiversity has often required animal relocations and re-introductions. As a result, the company has considerable experience in this area, and to date, Group Conservation Manager, Les Carlisle, has planned and implemented the translocation of more than 40 000 head of wildlife in several African countries. Les Carlisle lives in White River, Mpumalanga and is well known in South African conservation circles.
Carlisle is the expert who led the gaur relocation after five years of collaboration and planning between the Forest Department of Madhya Pradesh, the Wildlife Institute of India and &Beyond. The historic translocation was one of the priority projects identified by Indian conservationist, Dr H.S. Pabla, the Head of Madhya Pradesh Wildlife, and Sarath Champati, &Beyond’s Senior Naturalist.
&Beyond provided the expertise, training, some of the equipment and purpose built vehicles were donated jointly by &Beyond and Taj Safaris. Supporting Carlisle was a team including senior Indian field directors and veterinarians, as well as experts from the KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife, Game Capture Unit in South Africa, Dr Dave Cooper and Jeff Cooke.
‘It has been an extraordinary privilege to participate in a pioneering Indian wildlife translocation, planning and execution process’, said Carlisle. ‘The people involved were totally professional and their determination to make a difference to the future of conservation will mean that the future of the tiger, the overall indicator of the health of the Madhya Pradesh forests, will surely be improved.’
The gaur project has had substantial benefits, not only for the future of the species, but for active wildlife management in general in India.