HISTORY OF DHODIAL PHEASANTRY
A pheasantry, in simple words, is a facility where pheasants are kept and bred. For conservation organization, there are always clear cut objectives to keep and extend such type of facilities. Pheasantry and other Ex-situ conservation facilities are the only option when endangered bird or animal species are fighting for survival in the wild due to habitat disturbances and other similar anomalies. Since, pheasants are the most beautiful and colorful birds, therefore, they are more prone to hunting and predation. Mansehra Wildlife Division has been given the opportunities to establish and maintain a pheasantry for conservation education, research, stocking and reintroduction.
Located on the Karakoram Highway, Dhodial Pheasantry was established in 1984 and is spread over an area of about 12.5 acres at Dhodial in district Mansehra. Primarily the pheasantry was established to get an experience of breeding ring necked pheasant and other exotic species for general public and other aviculturist. On the basis of the successful trial during 1980’s, eggs and wild pairs of indigenous species were also collected to breed and rare them in this pheasantry. Side by side, other available species of pheasants from all over the world are being collected and introduced in this pheasantry for breeding. Chronological developments of Dhodial Pheasantry are as follows:
- Dhodial Pheasantry was established in 1984 with the objective of raising local and exotic species in captivity. Cages were built on 1.6 ha of land initially and Ring-necked Pheasants along with wild captive Koklass and Monal Pheasants were kept for breeding.
- This project developed tremendously over time and this Pheasantry is claimed to be as Asia‘s largest facility for pheasants.
- The objectives of the Pheasantry were also expanded from reintroduction and restocking to education and research awareness to get the support of different sections of the public.
- At present, 38 pheasant species out of 52 are housed in Dhodial Pheasantry, which are collected from throughout world.
- After necessary trials of raising ring-necked pheasants in captivity during 1984-85, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Wildlife Department emphasized raising indigenous pheasant species. The main problem was acquiring a parent flock of these indigenous species to raise in captivity.
- Some eggs of Cheer Pheasants were transported from England with the help of the World Pheasant Association (WPA) and were hatched in the Pheasantry, but their survival rate was not sufficient to establish them as a breeding population until 1998.
- The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Wildlife Department tried to collect wild captive birds and eggs of Koklass, Monal, and Kalij Pheasants from 1999-2005, but these wild captive birds did not adjust to the captive environment; every year 90% of these birds died due to stress and other reasons The ―Westrage-2000‖ project tried to trap Western Horned Tragopan from Palas valley in 2001-2002, but these efforts were not successful due to the elusive nature of the species and technical flaws in trapping.
- A project was prepared in 2003 and submitted to the Government of NWFP for purchase of indigenous and exotic species to breed in Dhodial Pheasantry. Through this project a few breeding pairs of Himalayan Monal and white crested Kalij were procured and placed for breeding at Dhodial Pheasantry.
- The staff of Dhodial Pheasantry deserves the credit for successfully raising Cheer Pheasants in captivity and is in a position to launch their mass scale reintroduction in suitable habitat of the province .