Monday, November 15, 2010

Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Vows to Help Save the Eastern Swamp Deer

Swamp Deer

Recently, an Indian state-owned oil and gas company called Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has made a decision to save the eastern swamp deer, a subspecies of swamp deer known locally as barasingha ('twelve horns'). Out of the three recognized subspecies, the eastern swamp deer is the most highly endangered with a population of just around 600 animals in Assam's Kaziranga National Park. According to Rathin Barman, Wildlife Trust of India's senior official, the eastern subspecies is at a higher risk of extinction compared to the Bengal tiger or the Indian one-horned rhinoceros and not much attention has been paid to it regarding its population state. Furthermore, an ONGC official stated that the company was happy to provide financial assistance to a project dedicated to the conservation of the subspecies. According to one source, there could be a plan for translocation of the eastern swamp deer from Kaziranga to other habitats in Assam in order to increase the population. In addition to that, ONGC has also been thinking of setting up a bird conservation center in the state with collaboration with the forest department.

I'm very happy to see that a major company has taken the initiative in helping with the conservation of India's wildlife. But what is really interesting is how there is an animal unique to India's biodiversity being given a great deal of attention, in addition to more recognizable ones such as the tiger and the rhinoceros. According to one Kaziranga park official, the eastern swamp deer, though low in numbers, has been managing to thrive well thanks to Kaziranga's healthy tiger population. However, he also stated that the population is at a great risk of disease transmission from domestic livestock. This, in my opinion, is one of the key facts explaining why the eastern swamp deer should deserve such attention. Without this primary source of food, the tiger population of Kaziranga would be greatly affected. I'm also happy to see that ONGC has been contemplating to help establish a bird conservation center in Assam. It goes to show how a big company is collaborating with the wildlife society of India in its wildlife conservation.

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