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Park helps pheasant breeding scheme

A group of birds from two threatened species of pheasant are being taken to India to take part in a breeding programme.

The nine tragopans come from six collections within the UK and have all been donated by their breeders to the project.

They will start their journey to India on Wednesday from the Highland Wildlife Park in Kingussie, which has provided special quarantine facilities to hold the rare game birds.

The Indian government and its wildlife authorities have made efforts to ensure that some of the country's most endangered species do not slip further towards extinction.

They have made specific plans for more than 70 different species, two of which are members of the pheasant family called tragopans - the Satyr tragopan and the Temminck's tragopan.

Conservation breeding groups of the two species in captivity will be established to provide birds for reintroduction in the future.

Previous attempts in India to use birds from the wild in a breeding programme have failed.

Douglas Richardson, animal collection manager at the park, said: "The specialist skills and resources developed at wildlife parks and zoos to manage captive species are increasingly the solutions of choice when trying to address species conservation in the field.

"It is very far-sighted of the Indian authorities, working in conjunction with the World Pheasant Association (WPA), to establish genetically healthy captive populations for key species now so that they are available for potential reintroduction in the future.

"The role of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland's Highland Wildlife Park in this case is to act as the pre-export quarantine facility for the two species of tragopan pheasants that are the focus of this latest project."

From Belfast Telegraph