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MP's decision to send rescued tigers and leopards to Reliance-owned zoo in Jamnagar draws flak

The Madhya Pradesh Forest Department has decided to send two tigers and four leopards to Jamnagar’s Green Zoological Park, despite having two rescue parks in the state.

wildlife MP decision to send rescued tigers and leopards to Reliance-owned zoo in Jamnagar draws flak drb
Indore, First Published Jan 19, 2022, 4:27 PM IST

Image: Getty Images

The forest department of Madhya Pradesh has decided to send its rescued two tigers and four leopards to Jamnagar in Gujarat.  The department had sought Central Zoo Authority (CZA)’s approval in this regard on January 13.

Days after the forest department’s move, Bhopal-based wildlife activist Ajay Dubey has written to National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), CZA and the Chief Minister of MP against it.

In his complaint letter, Dubey has raised several points as to why the tigers and leopards should not be sent to the neighbouring state. In a conversation with this reporter, Dubey said, “The points that I have raised are on legal grounds. First and foremost, why would MP want to send its tigers and leopards to Gujarat when it already has two rescue centres here?”

On December 29, 2021, the Reliance owned Greens Zoological, Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre (GZRRC) had written to Alok Kumar, Chief Wildlife Warden and Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) MP, seeking to ‘acquire’ rescued wild animals of MP. In the same letter, GZRRC said that it has learnt MP does not have enough facilities to house these animals. It also said that if GHRRC will acquire these animals, it will help “relieve the financial burden of the state towards these animals”.

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Dubey has strongly raised objections to GHRRC’s letter. He says that “not just MP has two rescue centres (Bhopal’s Van Vihar Rescue Center and Satna’s Maharaja Martand Singh Judeo Rescue Center) to house wild animals, but it also has proper financial resources for keeping them”.

“I am aware that the state government is in plans of making tiger safaris in Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Pachmarhi by spending crores of rupees. It has been proposed that rescued wild animals will be released in the tiger sarafis. How can the department consider sending these big cats to Gujarat then?” questioned Dubey.

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Furthermore, he said that despite the Chief Minister being the head of the Madhya Pradesh State Wildlife Board, the PCCF did not seek his permission before seeking CZA’s permission. “No such proposal has been placed before the MPSWB, nor has any permission been received, due to which the consent issued by the PCCF (WL) is not in accordance with the law,” he added.

While GZRRC has sought permission to acquire rescued big cats from MP, Dubey says that for nearly three decades, there has been nothing positive on the translocation of Gir’s Asiatic Lions to MP, despite a Supreme Court order of 2013 in favour of MP. He says that MP should rather have been persistent in asking Gujarat to send its lions instead of sending tigers from here.

Not just Dubey but a senior official from the state forest department also said the same. Seeking anonymity, the officer said, “MP should not have agreed upon sending its tigers to Gujarat, which for the longest has not been able to send its Asiatic lions.”

Meanwhile, Dubey has said that if an action is not taken based on his complaint, he will be left with no option but to take the matter with the court.

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