Keeping ducks in small farms might be a smart choice, as they make for pleasant companions and provide pest control services, manure, meat and eggs, but the Renuka Zoo authorities do not seem to think so.
The Sirmour district-based zoological park is not allowing the ducks in its premises to breed.
The zoo, which has water bodies like the Renuka Lake and the Parshuram Tal, houses 27 ducks, of which 12 are female and expected to lay eggs soon. Generally, a duck lays 10 to 15 eggs over two days.
However, sources say the eggs would be destroyed by pricking with a needle, preventing ducklings from taking birth.
Sources said the practice had been going on for a long time, but was never reported.
As the ducks would add to the attraction of the water bodies, besides their other advantages, a question has arisen over the authorities' decision. Experts are questioning why the wildlife authorities are allowing the eggs to be destroyed, when they can be utilised for commercial purposes.
'Population control needed'
The wildlife department has claimed that the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) had listed the ducks in the 'domestic' category, so the department could not allow their population within the zoo to increase beyond a certain limit.
Divisional forest officer (wildlife) Satish Gupta admitted that the duck population at the zoo was not allowed to increase, as the CZA had placed the ducks in the domestic category. The authority limits the number of animals to be housed in a zoo, especially under various categories.
When asked about the method of destroying eggs, he said, "As per veterinarian advice, a needle is used to prick the eggs."
'Find other solutions'
However, wildlife enthusiast Kanwar Ajay Bhadur Singh said instead of destroying the eggs, the wildlife department should find some other solution.
"The inhuman method being practiced by the zoo should be stopped. Many people would be interested in buying ducklings, as ducks do not destroy vegetable crops and are efficient egg producers," he said.
Experts say ducks do not require any elaborate habitat and need less attention than chickens. They are omnivores, who eat weeds, insects, pests and fallen food, and are not averse to foraging, and thus, feeding them is more economical than keeping chickens.