CZA seeks action against DFO in Uttarakhand for ‘illegal’ animal rescue centredehradun Updated: Jan 03, 2018 19:43 IST
A leopard at Wildlife Transit and Rehabilitation Centre in Chidiapur, Haridwar. (HT Photo)
The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has directed the Uttarakhand forest department to take “immediate action” against Haridwar’s the then divisional forest officer (DFO), who started Wildlife Transit and Rehabilitation Centre in Chidiapur without seeking permission under The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
A report conducted by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has also exposed poor conditions at the centre.
In a letter issued on November 15, a copy of which is with Hindustan Times, CZA member secretary DN Singh has written to the chief wildlife warden mentioning that the permission under section 38 H (1a) of the act was not taken to run the centre due to which action should be taken against the DFO.
The centre started functioning in 2010 and was the first rescue centre in Uttarakhand to house leopards that face major conflict. Along with the centre, there’s another centre where simians are sterilised.
The centre was established owing to increasing leopard-human conflict which has succumbed lives of over 600 people since state formation and injured over 3,000 others.
This decision came after 18 months since AWBI members NG Jayasimha and Gauri Maulekhi co-opted member of the board conducted a joint inspection at the centre on April 17, 2016.
The report submitted to the CZA exposed overcrowding and lack of hygiene at the centre.
The report stated: “Leopards were observed to be crammed in small rooms since there are not enough enclosures at the centre. It has also been established through the documents received that the size of the room in which each individual leopard is kept is too small for permanent housing.”
The report also raised concern over permanent housing of the leopards-which is against the CZA protocols as the animals shall be transferred to zoo if they cannot be released in open. All leopards reported during the inspection were man-eaters.
“The leopards seem under stress as they were housed in small rooms. No scientific attempt has ever been made to establish compatibility amongst them. The centre is poorly staffed and lacks a permanent veterinarian. Most importantly, it is illegal running such a centre without the permission of the Authority,” Animal Welfare Board of India member Maulekhi told Hindustan Times.
HK Singh was the DFO Haridwar when the centre was established who is now attached at the forest headquarters. Insiders claimed that chief wildlife warden Digvijay Singh Khati has asked chief conservator of forest (CCF) Garhwal to take appropriate action against the DFO.
But, officers deny receiving any such mail. “I am out of station and have not come across any such letter,” Khati said. The Board has recommended handing over the centre to Wildlife Institute of India (WII) for scientific management of leopards that were declared man-eaters. They have also demanded to engage an independent director and veterinary officer for the welfare of animals.