iconimg Saturday, August 29, 2015

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, January 29, 2014
In a move that will be welcomed by the city’s big-cat lovers and wildlife enthusiasts, the state forest department has revived Sanjay Gandhi National Park’s (SGNP) scheme for adopting wild animals held in captivity at the park. The state forest department has issued a government resolution approving the adoption scheme, making it possible for individuals and even corporate companies to adopt animals such as lions, tigers, white tigers, leopards and spotted deer for a maximum period of one year upon paying an adoption fee.

The scheme was originally proposed to the principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) in 2010 but never really took off due to administrative constraints. The adoption scheme is based on a similar program run at the Bannerghatta National Park, Bangalore.

The adoption scheme’s aim is to attract more visitors to the park and make them more aware of the wild animals. The adopters would get a chance to visit the adoptee animal once a week without any special fees.

“This is an effort to directly involve people in wildlife conservation. Such an opportunity is not available to them usually and this way they can contribute to an animal’s upkeep,” said Vikas Gupta, director, SGNP, Borivali. The fees paid by adopters are used for feeding the animals, paying for their medical care and also towards the payment of animal caretakers.

The captive lions and tigers are the prime attraction at SGNP’s wildlife safari that attracts the maximum tourist footfall. These big cats have been brought in to SGNP from places such as Bannerghatta National Park and Pench Tiger Reserve. But the leopards in captivity are largely the ones trapped in and around Mumbai during the height of human-leopard conflict between 2003-2005. These leopards have been in captivity due to their serious injuries and old age.

Terms and conditions to adopt an animal at SGNP

One animal can be adopted for a year
The amount paid towards adoption will be non-refundable and interested persons/company should draw a demand draft.
The state would continue to own the animal
The adopter’s name would be displayed outside the adoptee animal’s cage
Adopter would be allowed to visit the animal once a week without additional fees
The adopter would not be allowed to put in conditions regarding the animal’s diet, medicines, cages etc. They will be provided with a certification of adoption

Nos. Adoption fee/year (in rupees)
Lion 4 3,00,000
White Tiger 3 3,20,000
Tiger 6 3,10,000
Leopard 21 1,20,000
Rusty spotted cat 5 50,000
Spotted Deer 32 20,000
Blue bull (Nilgai) 2 30,000
Barking Deer 1 30,000