Red-tapism hinders release of excess deer, blue bulls in zoo

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 18 Aug 2018 12:49:38


By Ramesh Marulkar,

Inordinate and unavoidable delay on the part of some officers has held up release of excess 20 deer and four blue bulls from Maharajbag zoo in the wild in Melghat even after 18 months. The process began with Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife), Nagpur, writing a letter to the Maharashtra Zoo Authority (MZA) and Field Director, Melghat Tiger Reserve, Amravati, on January 2, 2017 for necessary steps for soft release of these wild animals in Melghat and asking them to submit reports to him.

The MZA had said, these animals are in excess to the enclosure capacity posing threat to their health. It had suggested to release the animals after giving fitness certificate or on the basis of Herd Register Copy regarding regular health examination by the zoo.

The zoo has ten male, ten female deer and four blue bulls extra and as per the norms of Central Zoo Authority (CZA), they should be released in jungle. The total number of spotted deer is 30 and of them 20 additional wild animals require to be shifted elsewhere.

The PCCF (Wildlife) had asked the Field Director, Melghat Tiger Reserve, to make preparations for soft release of these herbivores in Gullarghat in Akot Wildlife Division. However, the decision was changed to shift the animals to Vairat in Chikhalkara Forest Range falling in Gugamal park, due to poor prey-base.

When contacted, Vinod Shivkumar, Deputy Conservator of Forest (Wildlife), Paratwada, Gugamal, in the reserve, said that he started working two months ago to make preparations in Vairat round for well-being of the guests coming from Maharajbag zoo, Nagpur.

Shivkumar engaged field staff members to developing grassland, creating waterholes, chain-link fencing in five hectare area, and other facilities for the animals. They will also monitor movements of these deer and blue bulls. Moreover, a veterinary doctor also has been made available there for checking health of the animals. They are also ready for soft release of these animals in Vairat jungle.

Shivkumar said that he wrote a letter to the authorities of Maharajbag zoo and sent reminders since then for release of the herbivores by following the CZA protocol of captive animals into the natural habitat. However, no action has been taken so far by them, he added.

When sought to know Maharajbag zoo side, Dr N D Parlawar, Associate Dean,  and Zoo Controller, said, on Friday, that he was eager to release these excess animals but he was waiting to get permission from MZA and Forest Department under Section 12 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and transit pass. He also said, MZA can give permission to release deer/blue bulls falling in Schedule III of the Act. It is also mandatory to seek final approval from CZA for acquisition and transportation of wild animals, citing the example that it had served a show-cause notice to zoo for shifting excess animals to Navegaon in 2011. He wanted that MZA should co-ordinate and complete the official procedure at earliest possible, Dr Parlawar pointed out.

Moreover, the officials at Melghat will have to acclimatise these animals in that atmosphere, before direct release in the wild. These animals cannot continue to pull on directly in the changed habitat, he added. Meanwhile, S S Dole, Member-Secretary, MZA, has submitted a letter to A K Misra, PCCF (Wildlife), this week seeking permission for release of the deer and blue bulls in Melghat as per the norms of CZA.


 ‘Monsoon is best period for  shifting captive animals’

Rainy season is the best period to shift the wild animals from captivity to the wild. This is also breeding season for wild animals. Even if the official procedure is complete this or next month, there will be again problem of shifting pregnant females, who will deliver fawns in a couple of months.

A wildlife expert said that in such a case, the authorities can transport young males and females (not conceived). Let the pregnant females live here along with their young ones. The authorities can phase out the shifting programme.

It may be mentioned here that two deer died during transit in 2011while being taken from Maharajbag zoo to Navegaonbandh, a distance of 135 km.

This time, the animals are to be shifted to Vairat jungle situated around 300 km from Nagpur. November-December is also a favourable time for transporting the animals in view of availability of grass and water but not in summer due to high temperature, he added.