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For What, 72 Zoological Parks @ Rs 2,870 Cr

For What, 72 Zoological Parks @ Rs 2,870 Cr

New Delhi (The Hawk): For what purpose Government is spending Rs 2,870 Cr on country's 72 zoological parksthat too amid lock down, curfews etc, at an apalling time like now when the whole country is reeling under the mass death causing COVID-19, now literally threatening to reach at peak in mid May + ensuing third phase of it spurting any moment now when none of the current vaccines will be effective and new vaccines will have to be taken out…That's not all. The spate of different strains of the pandemic will not cease to exist as world has analysed it…It will go on India included.New vaccines will have to be made again. The moot point here is (like in many other such cases), why the government has budgeted Rs 2,870 Cr for maintaining Zoos etc? That too when masses of all hues avoid going to zoos by and large as they have easiest access to zoos, animal, birds, environments etc related in front of them via various forms of net etc? This already has resulted into extremely rare visitors in the country's zoos.

Senior Government officials are of unanimous view that Zoos etc related should be winded up or simply handed over to the private entities, use the above saved money or equivalent on constructive works like now on all paraphernelia needed for combating current epidemic literally threatening to go on till when no one knows. Amusingly, of what use is environment when the pandemic is criss-crossing it 24x7x365 with no respite for any one including the inhabitants of the zoo. Why thus torture them? Is it only because they are mute, suffering in silence?

Zoo incharge The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) is the body of the government of India responsible for oversight of zoos. It is an affiliate member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). (The latter already is on the verge of folding up due to current epidemic).

The CZA was formed to bring Indian zoos up to international standards. Before the CZA was formed, many zoos were poorly managed, with unsuitable animal enclosures and little or no breeding records of animals, which caused inbreeding and hybridization (genetic pollution, as in one case where an Asiatic lion were cross-bred with an African lion).

The Central Zoo Authority has been constituted under the section 38A of Wild Life (Protection) Act 1972,. The Authority consists of a Chairman, ten members and a Member Secretary. The main objective of the authority is to complement the national effort in conservation of wild life. Standards and norms for housing, upkeep, health care and overall management of animals in zoos has been laid down under the Recognition of Zoo Rules, 1992. Every zoo in the country is required to obtain recognition from the Authority for its operation. The Authority evaluates the zoos with reference to the parameters prescribed under the Rules and grants recognition accordingly. Zoos which have no potential to come up to the prescribed standards and norms may be refused recognition and asked to close down.

Since its inception in 1992, the Authority has evaluated 347 zoos, out of which 164 have been recognized and 183 refused recognition. Out of 183 zoos refused recognition, 92 have been closed down and their animals relocated suitably. Cases of the remaining 91 derecognized zoos are currently under review. The Authority's role is more of a facilitator than a regulator. It, therefore, provides technical and financial assistance to such zoos which have the potential to attain the desired standard in animal management. Only such captive facilities which have neither the managerial skills nor the requisite resources are asked to close down.

Apart from the primary function of grant of recognition and release of financial assistance, the Central Zoo Authority also regulates the exchange of animals of endangered category Listed under Schedule-I and II of the Wildlife Protection Act among zoos. Exchange of animals between Indian and foreign zoos is also approved by the Authority before the requisite clearances under EXIM Policy and the CITES permits are issued by the competent authority.

The Authority also coordinates and implements programmes on capacity building of zoo personnel, planned breeding programmes and ex-situ research including biotechnological intervention for conservation of species for complementing in-situ conservation efforts in the country. Some of the major initiatives undertaken by the Authority since its inception include establishment of a laboratory for conservation of endangered species at Hyderabad for carrying out research in biotechnology, planned breeding of red panda and its restocking into the wild, upgrading diagnostic facilities for disease diagnosis at selected veterinary institutions and their networking with zoos on regional basis for better health care of animals.

Under such circumstances, is it not called for immediate folding up of the Zoos and divert the money to the current and future pandemic countering?

Updated : 1 May 2021 7:37 AM GMT


Soumitra Bose is a Special Correspondent of The Hawk in New Delhi

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