A meeting of the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) chaired by the Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh has decided to renew elephant exchange with international zoos after a break of several years.
In view of maintaining genetically healthy species in captivity, the CZA regularly monitors animal exchange programmes between zoos in India and also between Indian and foreign zoos.
However, with increasing protests by animal rights groups, the practice of sending elephants outside India was stopped. "We have decided to go ahead with elephant exchange if the recipient international zoo has proper infrastructure," CZA member secretary B.R. Sharma said.
India has 86 elephants in zoos and an equal number in circuses. More than 3,000 elephants are in captivity. The 23rd meeting of the CZA also came up with ‘Vision 2020’ for zoos across India, demanding an enhanced budgetary provision — almost 4-5 times the existing budget.
“We have demanded Rs 800 crore for the next 10 years,” Sharma said.
Ramesh emphasised on a greater use of information technology (IT) in management of zoos and also called for increased use of biotechnology interventions.
He also said that the Wildlife Institute of India should also focus on wildlife management.
Ramesh also released a book, Zoos in India-Legislation, Policy, Guidelines and Strategies, published by the CZA. The Minister and the other Ministry officials also watched a film, Sanctuaries of the Future, based on Indian zoos and directed by Himanshu Malhotra.