Maharajbag Zoo dying slow death

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 05 Sep 2018 09:36:47


Special Correspondent,

Maharajbag Zoo is sailing through troubled waters and its future is at stake. Political unwillingness, builders lobby, sandwiching between Central Zoo Authority (CZA) and Maharashtra Authority (MZA), growing influence of Gorewada as next destination for international safari and other factors are responsible for slow death of this historic zoo, alleged an activist during a visit of mediapersons on Tuesday.

Kundan Hate, activist and Honorary Wildlife Warden, said that the zoo authorities have submitted the masterplan to CZA in 2016 but it rejected to approve it on the pretext of suggesting measures. Similarly, it has also not so far approved layout plan of the zoo. It has not renewed recognition of the zoo from December last year, despite inspection by the higher officer, he added.

On the occasion, Dr Sunil Bawaskar, In-charge Officers of the zoo, said that the management was trying to save the zoo in the given situation as per its capability. The authorities cannot take up the work of new enclosures for Schedule I and II wild animals unless the plans are sanctioned. The authority had made over 40 suggestions for achieving development of the zoo and garden. The management is doing developmental activities out its own funds in the interest of animals as well visitors, he added.
The zoo has now only one tiger, six leopards, two peacocks, two crocodiles, one jackal, one sloth bear, one sambar and 30 spotted deer.

There were one tiger Sahebrao and four tigresses Cherry, Lee, Jaan and Jaai some time ago but Jaai died and Cherry and Lee were shifted to Bilaspur and Gorewada, respectively. Now, only Jaan is kept in the open enclosure. Jaan is nine-year-old, sloth-bear is ten-year-old and jackle is four-year-old but they are passing time without companions. As per the rules, there should not be a single young animal but a pair for fulfilling biological requirements. The major animals in the zoo are suffering from miserable life in absence of mates, which is evident that Jaan is still passing single life. This clearly proves that the management failed to take necessary steps to understand grievances of the young animals.

CZA has asked zoo management to shift 20 excess spotted deer elsewhere but even after passing of one-and-a-half years they have not been shifted to the proposed place at Vairat in Melghat.

The zoo authorities had shifted deer to Navegaonbandh, Sahebrao and Lee to Gorewada Rescue Centre but it objected and issued a show case notice. MZA says that CZA permission is not required if the zoo has to shift Schedule II and III animals whereas CZA raises objections on shifting the animals without its prior permission. The zoo authorities are sandwiched in between these two organisations, said Hate.

It may be mentioned here that The Union Ministry for Environment, Forests & Climate Change had given order to Maharashtra Government for closing down the zoos having failed to comply with the norms and rules. Maharajbag zoo is one of the defaulters and thus its future is at stake. The zoo is facing the same situation still as it has failed to fulfill the advices given by CZA.

In the meantime, morning walkers in Maharajbag garden anguish over demolishing ‘Aasan Mandal’ hall as directed by CZA and ban on conducting exercise in the morning hours. Late Umesh Choubey, a noted social leader, had struggled for saving Maharajbag from the cluthes of builders preserving interests of morning walkers through his Maharajbag Bacho Samiti.