Sunday, December 10, 2017

Pilots beware! It’s day of the jackals at Kolkata airport

Kolkata: Wily jackals inhabiting the extensive grassland at Kolkata airport have outwitted human efforts to trap them and clear the grounds. Two dozen traps set up on the grounds over nearly 100 days have netted only 13 jackals so far, that too in the first few weeks, implying that the animals have grown smarter after the initial setback.
The airport authorities, however, cannot afford to be happy at this evolution of the animals. Getting jackals off the airfield is critical for flight safety; stray jackals on the runway can force suspension of operations and a collision between a jackal and an aircraft travelling at over 100km/h while landing or tak-ing off can spell disaster.
The jackal population at the airport is estimated to be around a hundred and is growing fast. A pair produces between two and four pups in a litter and their gestation period is a mere 63 days; and the pups attain reproductive age in less than a year. More worryingly for the airport management, their mating period — February-March — is just a few weeks away.
"Even a pair of jackals on the grounds can be enough to rebuild the population. So, unless all the jackals are captured and rehabilitated at one go, the grounds will not be free of the menace," wildlife cons-ervator Subhankar Sengupta explained.
Kushal Mukherjee of Prakriti Sansad, who has been following the jackal population at Tolly Club, recalled how the population bounced back this year after declining to half four years ago. "I have spotted quite a few pups this year. The population is back to around 40 after going down to 20," he said.
10/12/17 Times of India