Chain link installed at Katraj zoo, boundary wall repairs pending since 2019
The Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park in Katraj is taking steps to protect vulnerable animals after four blackbucks were attacked and killed by stray dogs earlier this month.
The zoo has begun fencing the enclosures around vulnerable species such as deers and antelopes with chain link.
Though the enclosure of the animal is being protected, the zoo boundary remains vulnerable as work to raise the perimeter wall has not begun yet.
A part of the perimeter wall of the zoo collapsed in the heavy rain of September 25, 2019, and has still not been re-built.
“The chain link fencing has been put up around the enclosures of sambars, blackbucks, chinkara, and spotted deer to protect them. However, the work of building the wall has not started yet,” said Ajay Wayse, executive engineer, Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) who looks after the civic work of the zoo.
On January 6, 2021, stray dogs managed to get inside the enclosure of the blackbucks. Dogs chased the blackbucks and according to officials, four blackbucks died due to a cardiac shock. Blackbucks are protected animals under schedule I of the wildlife (protection) act which prohibits their hunting and poaching.
After this incident, officials claimed that the dogs could have entered the enclosure from the broken wall near the nullah. Now, the enclosures are being covered with chain link fencing but the broken wall near the nullah still remains to be constructed.
Elected representatives of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) staged a protest on this issue at the PMC general body meeting earlier this week.
“The wall had collapsed in the flood faced by the city on September 25, 2019. It has been more than a year and the wall hasn’t been constructed by the PMC. This negligence has caused lives of four blackbucks,” said Vasant More, leader MNS.
Vasant More accused the PMC of ignoring this issue and causing a delay in the process of constructing the wall.
“They had issued a tender earlier and the work was just about to begin. Now, the previous tender has been canceled and a new tendering process has started which means the process will start from scratch. So, how many more months will it take to construct this wall?” More asked.
The zoo currently has 448 animals and about 100 staffers who keep the zoo guarded and take care of animals. The zoo has remained closed to the public since March 14, 2020, due to Covid-19. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. On weekdays, the zoo used to see 5,000-10,000 visitors.
However, the number would increase on weekends to 12,000-18,000 visitors.