Plan to make Delhi zoo world class

By Saumbh Sinha, Times News Network

New Delhi: These would be some of the attractions of a renovated Delhi zoo once a newly-prepared master plan is implemented.

Describing the "eco-system based plan," zoo director B S f Bonal said: "We want to provide more area and a natural habitat for the animals. Maximum attention will be paid to enclosure designing."

Under the plan, enclosures for mixed species will come up. "Keeping compatible animals like sambbar, cheetal, black buck and nilgai in one place will help in keeping the enclosure size as large as possible," Bonal said.

The plan prepared under the guidance of the Central Zoo Authority by retired IFS official and zoo design expert Pushp Kumar, has been submitted to the Union ministry of environment and forests. The Delhi zoo is the only zoological park in the country that is directly managed by the Union government through the ministry. The plan will he implemented over five years and will cost crores.

Some new enclosures envisioned in the plan are already coming up. The chimpanzee hillock and birds' enclosures are nearing completion.

The biggest problem of the zoo is water-related: scarcity of clean water and lack of proper drainage. "Most of the new enclosures planned will have dry moats," a CZA official said. Bonal said an overhead water-tank will soon become operational and the zoo will have its own reservoir under the new master plan.

However, zoo advisory board's former member Himanshu Malhotra said: "The underground water is saline. The Yamuna is full of sewage. The only option is to have an upstream pipeline from the Wazirahad barrage "

"Indian zoos, including the Delhi zoo, have not kept pace with changing times. The aim of a zoo has changed from entertaining visitors to highlighting the need for conservation of animals before their species get endangered, or even worse, extinct," Pushp Kumar said.

Giving an example of the scientific demands of zoo design, he said : "The need of each species has to be kept in mind while designing and making an enclosure for them." For example, a tiger enclosure must have be densely shaded while that of a lion should be sparsely shaded.

As an example, for animals like bandicoots and ratels, who are known as grave diggers, the enclosure floor should have an at least 2.5 inch think RCC (concrete) layer. Otherwise they will simply dig their way out. Four primates, the enclosures should be such that the animal has to search for food. "if food is served on a platter, altiums, hoolock gibbons and other primates will get nutrition but no nourishment," Bonal said.

In the next few years, Bonal said, Delhi would boast of a truly world class zoo.

SOURCE : THE TIMES OF INDIA, NEW DELHI, 8-10-2001