|Posted on March 24, 2011 at 7:38 AM|
Alarming death rate among Central Zoo animals
KATHMANDU,Mar 9: The Central Zoo is facing an alarming death rate among its captiveanimals. In just one year, the zoo has lost 191 animals, an average of oneevery two days. While the total number of animals was 1,004 in the year2008-09, it came down to 813 in 2009-10, according to the zoo inventory.
Duringthe same period, the number of mammals has come down from 235 to 210. Althoughthe report is silent on the number of deaths of protected and endangered species,it is clear from some examples that vulnerable ones too have succumbed.
Ofthe three Himalayan black bears and one sloth bear in the possession of thezoo, only one Himalayan black bear remains. The black bear is listed in theCITES Appendix 2 and the sloth bear in Appendix 1 of the internationalconvention. The sloth bear was rescued from Kasara. Similarly, the number ofleopards declined from five to just two.
Thebears in the zoo have died of jaundice, the most common disease among theseomnivores. “The bears have died of jaundice originating from liver problem,”Sarita Jnawali, project director at the zoo, said.
Sheclaimed that the bears died even after they were provided prescribed fooditems. “We share the food items with London Zoo, but even then we lost them,”she said, pointing to the apparent lack of any reason for the deaths.
Jnawali,however, claimed that the number of species has remained almost static over thepast few years. But going by the zoo´s own data, the number of species in2008-09 was 113 and it came down to 108 in 2009-10.
Thereare 14 or 15 endangered species in the zoo, including Asiatic elephant, tiger,rhino, ghariyal, black buck, rock python, arna wild buffalo, lophophoruspheasant and others. The total number of endangered, protected and vulnerablespecies is 62.
Thezoo also has white-rumped vulture, the only native species, which is in acritically endangered list, and the Chinese alligator, an exotic endangeredspecies.
Withan annual budget of approximately Rs 60 million , Rs 950,000 is spent on foodproducts for the animals, birds, reptiles, fishes and others. The zoo ismanaged by the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC).
Worsestill, the figure includes animals received by the zoo after being rescued oras donations, which has brought the number to 191. “The figure paints a gloomypicture of the state of animals at the zoo. It has to be borne in mind that theauthorities have also counted new additions to arrive at the figure of 191,”Mahesh Sharma, a member of Roots & Shoots, an NGO working in conservation,said.
Heclaimed that the decline is related to inappropriate housing, lack ofnourishment and lack of up-to-the-mark welfare facilities.
Arguingthat a current survey shows over 60 percent of zoo visitors have prioritizedconservation over entertainment, education and training, Sharma said, “The losscan be related to the stress level of animals kept in unhealthy situations.This is also the result of prioritizing commercialization over welfare.”