In a premiere in Odisha, radio tags at the Nandankanan Zoo saved pangolin

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The Odisha Forestry Department successfully radio-tagged an Indian pangolin in the wild surroundings of the Nandankanan Zoological Park on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar on Wednesday.

“This is the second case of successful rehabilitation of the species in which the released individuals are telemetry monitored in the wild,” said Sanjeet Kumar, associate director of Nandankanan Zoological Park.

The release of this species is the second such endeavor in India to release the transmittered Indian pangolin back into the wild. The radiolabelled pangolin is expected to provide valuable information on the ecology, distribution patterns, home range and survival of this endangered species, Kumar said.

The male pangolin, recovered from the Paralakhemundi Forest Section on November 28, was admitted to the Nandankanan Zoo for treatment. After receiving the required health care, screening for parasites and diseases, and ending the month-long quarantine period, the pangolin was found suitable for release.

It gained a weight of 780 grams during the quarantine period and now weighs 14,740 kilograms. It shows normal behavior.

It is equipped with a VHF radio transmitter that weighs 0.5% of its body weight and is sourced from Advanced Telemetry Systems, specializing in radio telemetry instruments. The pangolin will be tracked using a yagi antenna and receiver during post-release surveillance, he said.

Indian pangolin, the largest of the eight pangolin species, lives in caves and feeds on ants and termites. Little is known about their ecology and behavior in the wild. By the way, NZP houses the only protection center for Indian pangolins in the world.

Established in 2009 to standardize the protocol for housing and keeping these endangered species, the center has successfully bred ten species in captivity.

The pangolins are the most illegally trafficked mammals in the world. This has resulted in massive seizures of pangolins and live species. However, the availability of information about their rehabilitation protocol is very limited. To standardize the rehabilitation protocol for the rescued pangolin, a radio-tagged Indian pangolin was released in the wild on Wednesday, officials added.


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