Nandankana Zoo violates Wildlife act: Wildlife watchdog

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Bhubaneswar, Jun 24 (UNI) Wildlife Society of Orissa (WSO), a wildlife watchdog, today alleged that animals and birds rescued, confiscated or abandoned from different parts of the state were being kept in the Nandankanan Zoo in violation of the laws.

WSO Secretary Biswajit Mohanty said, as many as 104 mammals and 82 reptiles including leopard cubs, snakes, fresh water turtles, monitor lizards, mongooses, porcupines, hares, fishing cats, hyaenas, pangolin and birds were received by the zoo during 1995 to 2006.

''While many of them died due to improper diet and poor medical care, some were forced to live a life of captivity in cramped enclosures in a very cruel condition'' he said adding the rights of these animals to live in their natural surroundings were being violated by the zoo authorities despite full knowledge of the condition to the Chief Wildlife Warden.

Mr Mohanty said, the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and the Recognition of Zoo Rules prohibits such illegal retention of animals seized or rescued from the forests. As per section 11(1) of the Act, only a wild animal dangerous to human life or which is diseased or disabled beyond recovery could be kept in captivity with the permission of Chief Wildlife Warden, he added.

He alleged that the Orissa Forest department was maintaining double standard in the enforcement of wildlife laws and urged the Chief Minister to intervene into it.

The WSO secretary said the forest department promptly arrest any person who keeps a wild animals as a pet but it takes no action against the Nandankanan Zoo authorities, who violates the wildlife protection Act 1972 with impunity.

Referring to a recent incident Mr Mohanty said, one Ram Singh Munda, a poor tribal from Keonjhar was arrested for keeping a wild bear at home but no action was taken against the Zoo authorities for keeping a large number of wildlife species rescued from different parts of the state violating the same rule.

He alleged that a python rescued from a forest near Cuttack city three weeks ago and a wild king cobra rescued from the Nayapalli area in Bhubaneswar city in 2006 were kept illegally in the snake enclousres of the zoo.

The zoo officials made no effort to release these snakes in their natural habitat despite repeated request by the Wildlife society, he said and urged the Chief Minister to direct the forest department to release them in the natural habitat without further delay to save them from a lifetime of forced imprisonment.

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