|Posted on March 9, 2010 at 6:11 AM|
NEW DELHI: Delhi Zoo will soon be bidding farewell to its three elephants. Infact, elephants will no longer be seen in any zoo or circus in the countryafter the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) issued a notice on Monday to the effectthat all of these animals in zoos, numbering about 140, should be sent tonational parks, sanctuaries and tiger reserves as soon as possible.
According to sources, the circular states that a zoo environment is not thebest place for the large animals and they should be shifted to national parkswith immediate effect. "CZA's order is binding on all zoos. Elephants arelarge animals and require a large area to move about freely. The environment ofa zoo can be very restrictive. The animals have great use for departmentalwork, eco-tourism, patrolling etc and a decision has been taken to send them tonational parks and tiger reserves where they can be under the supervision ofmahauts," said A N Prasad, director, Project Elephant.
According to Dr B K Gupta, evaluation and monitoring officer of CZA, India had140 elephants in 26 zoos and 16 circuses as on March 31 2009. "Of these,Mysore and Trivandrum have the largest number at 9 and 8 respectively.
Delhi and Mysore are the only two zoos that have African elephants. Thedecision was taken after evaluating conditions of elephants at various zoos andcircuses. We found that circuses specially were not following standards setunder the Recognition of Zoo Rules, 1992," he said.
Delhi Zoo director D N Singh confirmed that they had received the order thoughhe restrained from elaborating on it. Sources said that Delhi Zoo's residentAsiatic pachyderms, Rajlakshmi and Hira, and its sole African member Shankarwould be moved to Jim Corbett National Park sometime soon. Shankar had beengifted to former president Shankar Dayal Sharma by the Zimbabwian government.
Sources explained that the various zoos would carry out this order inconsultation with the chief wildlife wardens of their specific states and theCZA.
Environmentalists saw this as a positive move though some had reservations onthe shifting of all elephants as that would be contrary to the principal ofex-situ conservation."There is merit in this decision. It is best for themto be as close to their natural habitat as possible. Elephants needs a lot ofspace to exercise and move about in and they are being deprived that space inzoos and circuses," said Samir Sinha, head of traffic, WWF India.
The Central Zoo Authority in India has confirmed to the BBC that zoo and circuses in the country will no longer be allowed to keep elephants.
A spokesman for the authority said a binding directive had been issued by the authority for the animals to be sent to national parks and sanctuaries.
It is estimated that there are about 140 elephants in zoos and circuses.
Among the most regularly visited by tourists are three elephants in Delhi zoo, which are to be moved imminently.
The directive sent by by the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) says zoos and circuses are "not the best places for the large animals" which "require a large area to move about freely".
The CZA says circus and zoo elephants can play an important eco-tourism role in national parks and animal sanctuaries, where they can be properly supervised by mahauts - or elephant handlers.
The body has ordered the transfer to take place "as soon as possible".
It says that the animals have "great use" in eco-tourism and patrolling national parks and tiger reserves.
Correspondents say the CZA's move does not affect hundreds of elephants that are kept in temples across the length and breadth of India - neither does it affect those used for working purposes.
African elephants - held in Delhi and Mysore zoos - will be transferred to national parks as well as the native Indian elephants, officials say.