Sangai Deer from Manipur: An Endangered Species

Sangai Deer from Manipur: An Endangered Species

Question: Recently, the translocation of the rare brow antlered Sangai deer is being planned to save the species from extinction. Discuss the critical value of the Keibul Lamjao National Park/KNLP where this “dancing deer” is found and the importance of conservation of this species.

Critically endangered brow antlered species from Manipur named Sangai or dancing deer is being provided a second home to avoid extinction

KNLP Park: A Unique Natural Habitat

• Keibul Lamjao National Park situated inside the Loktak lake in Pumlen Pat is the last remaining habitat of the Sangai deer

• It was once found all over Manipur

• KNLP is spread over 40

• It is known all over the world for its unique composition; KNLP park is made of biomass vegetation floating on the lake’s surface

• Pumlen has been identified as the area for translocation because it has phumdi or floating biomass and small hillocks for shelter

• Sangai is a state animal and area of 60 sq km is needed for making the translocation project viable

• KNLP is the only floating park in the world and it is located in Bishnupur district, Manipur

• It is an integral part of the LokTak lake

• KNLP was declared as a National Park in 1977

Sangai Deer: Importance of Conservation

• Manipur’s Sangai or Eld deer is named after Lieutenant Percy Eld a British officer in 1844

• It was first discovered in Manipur in 1839

• It was reported as extinct in 1951; however, it was discovered in KNLP park by environmentalist and photographer E. P Gee

• From small herd of 14 in 1975 to 155 in 1995, initially conservation efforts for this deer species met with success

• But currently two factors are playing a role in the extinction of this deer:

- Firstly, there is rapid degeneration of its habitat through constant inundation and flooding by high water released through the artificial reservoir of the Loktak hydroelectric power project

- Secondly, Sangai deer are a target for many poachers in this area

• High water level of the hydroelectric power project has destroyed the natural life cycle of the phumdi on which the Sangai thrive

• Life cycle of the phumdi constitutes floating on the water surface during the season of high water as in the monsoons and in the lean season, reduction of water level causes the biomass to come into contact with nutrients on the bed of the lake and soak this in. When the rains come, the biomass which has fed on the nutrients is food for the Sangai deer.

• This natural feeding process is disrupted due to the construction of the LokTak Hydroelectric power plant

• This has marred and threatened the survival of the Sangai deer; conservation efforts need to be redoubled to save this species from extinction

Facts and Stats

• KNLP is the natural refuge of Manipur’s Eld’s Deer or brow antlered deer called Cervus eldi eldi or Sangai/dancing deer

• Due to conservation efforts, this rare deer’s population has risen from 100 in i2008 to 204 in 2013

• In 1999, a large piece of biomass in the park’s northern region broke free from the park area and phumdi is also sold by poachers to fish culture owners causing its annihilation
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