Sunday, October 2, 2022

Why Kangaroos in West Bengal are Bad News for Indian Forests

Kangaroos are a species exotic to India – that is, they are not native to India. When trafficked from their native land, they struggle to adapt to the new ecosystem and mostly fail. In addition, they also carry the risk of diseases that native species may not have resistance to. A classic lose-lose situation.

Why Kangaroos in West Bengal are Bad News for Indian Forests

One of the smuggled kangaroos found in the jungles of Jalpaiguri in West Bengal is in a debilitated condition along with two others. The fourth one, Joy, is dead.

Photo: ANI

When forest officials were on their routine patrol in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district last week, they were on hand to spot Asian elephants, pygmy hogs, red pandas, or even a Royal Bengal tiger or one-horned rhinoceros. Kangaroos were what they didn’t expect! You read it right Last week, on April 1 and 2, forest officials rescued three injured kangaroos from the jungles in Jalpaiguri and found the body of a fourth.

While three living and one dead can be a shock, finding kangaroos in this area is not a new phenomenon. According to a senior official of the West Bengal Forest Department, a kangaroo was found in a goods vehicle in the forests of neighboring Alipurduar district last month.

“We have seized all kinds of exotic and non-native species from chimpanzees, hyacinth macaws, silver marmosets, capuchin monkeys, aldabra giant tortoises – some packed and sealed in cartons as if they were carrying cargo. were.”

These all point to an elaborate smuggling racket, because one thing is for sure: kangaroos native to Australia and New Guinea, or capuchin monkeys native to South America, did not slither or swing their way into the jungles of West Bengal. were.

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Speaking to Times Now Digital, Vinod Kumar Yadav, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF), Wildlife and Chief Wildlife Warden, West Bengal says, “We are working with other enforcement agencies including CBI to trace the smuggling racket. Huh.” Two people were arrested from Hyderabad for their alleged involvement in kangaroo smuggling last month.

Kangaroos are a species non-native or exotic to India and are never here to survive. For starters, it’s the season. Marsupials are adapted to the arid, arid and hot climate of Australia, in stark contrast to the humid summers and cold winters of eastern India. In addition, they are herd animals and rarely survive in isolation – which is why kangaroos kept dying of myopathy at the Alipore Zoo.

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Chronic myopathy is a condition that results in muscle degeneration, which eventually affects the heart and lungs and leads to the painful death of kangaroos. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Australia, calls this “capture myopathy”. It is common in kangaroos in captivity and is “a stress-induced and painful condition characterized by excessive anaerobic muscle activity that usually occurs after exertion associated with capture or transfer.” Tension here means being exposed to loud and foreign noises, in addition to being isolated from the herd.

If the kangaroos were released into the wild, as was the case with the three smuggled kangaroos, a forest official said the smuggling deal would have soured. “These kangaroos were not fed in days or even weeks. When we found them they were all skin and bones and were seriously ill. The smugglers may not have had the heart to kill them after the deal went bad, but leaving them in the jungles was a worse fate for them,” said the official, who did not wish to be named. The animals – all sub-adults – have been sent to Bengal Safari Park for treatment. The dead kangaroo, a baby, or joy, has been sent for post-mortem.

In addition, kangaroos or any other trafficked exotic species may carry diseases to which native organisms have not been exposed or have not developed defense mechanisms. As a result, it creates additional problems for wildlife in India that are already nestled in the country’s degraded forests and forever locked in conflict with humans for space and resources. Some exotic species become invasive, such as the crocodile gar, which was found in ponds in Kerala after the 2018 floods. Scientists speculate that they may have been an ornamental pet or escaped from an aquaculture facility. Native to the freshwater lakes of North America, crocodile gars are predatory fish that began to invade the water bodies of Kerala and the threat destabilized native ecosystems.

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Kangaroos, if they manage to survive and thrive in India, pose a similar threat. However, their existence here is an “if” and a big IF at that.

Nation World News Desk
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