This is in response to the letter titled “Rescued animals and zoo” by Likha Tara in Readers Forum on 8th Nov issue of your esteemed daily.
At the very outset, I on behalf of the Forest Department, would like to thank the Print Media Houses of the state for their valuable contributions in conservation of nature and wildlife by facilitating top-priority coverage of environmental issues like wildlife, timber, pollution etc in their dailies.
To address the genuine concerns raised by Mr. Tara and perhaps shared by all the nature lovers and eco-warriors of a biodiversity hotspot state like ours, let me categorically state the following regarding rescue and rehabilitation operations of wild animals by the state forest department:
1. Rehabilitation of any rescued animal by release in its natural habitat is always the 1st priority and target in wildlife management. But it is factored on various parameters like physical health of the rescued animal, quality of the habitat selected for release, probability of survival of the animal etc.
2. Shifting of the rescued animals to Itanagar Biological Park (Zoo) doesn’t mean that they are put into enclosures permanently. Banderdewa Forest Division being a territorial division hands over the rescued animals to the more specialized wildlife division with specially trained wildlife forest staff, veterinarians, scientists and other facilities. The rescued animals are treated, monitored and studied by the dedicated wildlife team for their successful rehabilitation into wild or otherwise.
3. Based on case specifics, rescued animals after stabilization are also further transferred from Itanagar Biological Park to other wildlife specialist centres likeCentre for Wildlife Rehabilitation & Conservation, Kaziranga of International Fund for Animal Welfare and Wildlife Trust of India initiative. Eg: The elephant calves rescued last year by Banderdewa Forest Division. CWRC, Kaziranga which handles wide varieties of rescued wild animals & birds have maintained high records of successful release in wildrehabilitation cases.
4. The Itanagar Biological Park is steadily being upgraded and modernized as per the latest Central Zoo Authority of Indiaguidelines in terms of enclosures, animal diet, crowd management etc.
5. The turtle rescued by the Banderdewa forest staff recently, was not released in wild directly but handed over to wildlife division considering the facts that, the animal was very rare to the rescue site and of enormous size, thus always susceptible to hunting in state or adjoining Assam. Also finding a suitable habitat devoid of human interference for its release required in depth knowledge of the species with also November month being egg laying season of these riverine turtles.
Finally, through this forum I take this opportunity to make an appeal to all of us, the rapidly growing 7 Billion+ human population to together shoulder our responsibility towards other lifeforms of the planet as their very survival is at stake. Public’s cooperation, consideration and empathy for wildlife are uttermost needed especially during the Human -Wildlife conflict cases often characterized by mob fueled wildlife offences.
Banderdewa Forest Division