A view of Maharajbagh Garden
|Location||Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth, Nagpur|
|Memberships||Central Zoo Authority|
Maharajbagh zoo is the central zoo of Nagpur, India. The zoo is located in the heart of the city and has been built on the garden of the Bhonsle and Maratha rulers of the city. The zoo comes under the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) of India and is maintained by the Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth(PKV) of Nagpur. The zoo had come under scrutiny in 2006 for possible closure due to issues concerning animal healthcare but was cleared of all objections raised by CZA in 2007. The Government of Maharashtra has approved a new safari park of international standards next to Gorewada Lake in the city. Animals from Maharajbagh zoo would be moved to this new animal park but the older zoo will remain open for new animals.
The zoo is home to leopards, lion, tiger, peacock and other animals. Of the famous attractions in the zoo - a pair of leopards – Julie and Gopal died of old age in 2006. The pair’s little cub is still in the zoo.
Closure notice and later recognition
Maharajbagh zoo is one of the smaller zoos in India and has consistently faced a shortage of funds for expansion and maintenance. In 2006, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (India) ordered the Maharashtra government to close smaller zoos in the state if they did not comply with the 1998 National Zoo policy. These orders applied to Nagpur’s zoo as it lacked open enclosures for its animals. Among the 51 objections raised by CZA were that lack of a wall along the nearby open nullah, or water channel, could cause infections among the animals. INR 1 lacs from Nagpur Municipal Corporation helped build a wall and open enclosures and the zoo was cleared of notice.
Zoo came under controversy in August 2009, Nagpur's Guardian Minister Balasaheb Thorat entered a tiger's cage flouting India's Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. NAGPUR: Even as two more emu deaths were reported in the Maharajbagh Zoo on Tuesday morning, the Panjabrao Deshmukh Kris...hi Vidyapeeth (PDKV), which manages the zoo, has stripped associate dean of the College of Agriculture Vandan Mohod of t...he charge of zoo controller for the deer relocation mess.
Dr VM Bhale, the registrar of the Akola-based PDKV, said: "From Monday evening ER Patil, the dean of faculty of agriculture, has taken additional charge as zoo controller. Mohod will continue to function as associate dean of the college."
"We have shifted zoo incharge Dr AB Motghare," Dr Bhale said. He was non-committal about a similar action against Mohod and zookeeper Sumeet Deshmukh, who accompanied the vehicle to Navegaon. Incidentally, Deshmukh is Mohod's nephew.
On the two emu deaths, he said the zoo is under threat from pollution. On Amravati Road, many hotel and eateries dump garbage affecting zoo animals and on the other a nullah is still causing a problem. "We are devising a plan to curb pollution," he added.
The emu deaths comes close on the heels of two deer deaths due to negligence. This is the third emu death in the past six days. One emu that died on August 12 was buried quietly by Dr Motghare and the staff without performing post-mortem.
"No steps were taken to find out the exact cause of emu death. Had the post-mortem been done, the two emus that died on Tuesday could perhaps have been saved," claimed Karishma Galani, People for Animal (PFA) leader in Nagpur.
The post-mortem on two emus was performed at the Government Veterinary College. With three emu deaths, the zoo is left with only two emus. The zoo had procured two emus in 2005 for Rs 7,000 from a farm near Malkapur in Buldana district. The pair had bred in the zoo.
Following TOI's report, Naresh Kadyan, representative of International Organization for Animal Protection (OIPA) in India and Haryana PFA leader, on Tuesday issued a notice to the chief wildlife warden and state director general of police (DGP) demanding strict action against Mohod and Dr Motghare.
Kadyan has decided to take up the matter with MoEF minister Jairam Ramesh and the Central Zoo Authority (CZA). The CZA has also received complaints on deer deaths.
PFA's Manish Singh Chauhan and Karishma Galani reiterated their charge that police was delaying arrest of culprits.
Investigating officer PI P B Thombre denied delay on part of the police. "It is true that crime has been committed but we are collecting supporting evidence so that the case stands in the court. There may be more than two culprits. We are also in touch with the wildlife officials. We have also not received the post-mortem report of the deer," Thombre said.
He recorded the statement of Sumeet Deshmukh, who said as the vehicle encountered a snag, there was a delay in reaching Nagpur.
Interestingly, the vehicle had left Navegaon at 5pm and should have reached Nagpur at 10pm.
In 2001 the Government of Maharashtra had planned a zoo complying with international standards and two locations, Goregaon in Mumbai and Gorewada in Nagpur, were shortlisted. But due to space limitations in Mumbai, the Gorewada site was selected. In 2006, the State government approved the new 1,700 acres (6.9 km2) safari park on Forest department land near Gorewada lake. Project Gorewada will be based on the example of Singapore's animal parks and will cost around INR 500 crore. The project is expected to attract 25 to 30 lakh tourists each year and will boost Vidarbha's economy. The project will a zoological park satisfying international standards, a botanical garden, a breeding centre, a safari park, night safari, wetlands, an interpretation centre and eco-tourism, a rare combination in India. The State government is in the process of creating the Gondwana Foundation entrusted with some autonomy to finance and build the project. Initially, the Singapore-based Bernard Harrison and Friends were selected for preparing the master plan of the project and now the state government will invite new tenders on a Build Operate Transfer basis for this project.
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