|The chained langurs on Hi-Q international Academy’s Bariatu campus in Ranchi on Wednesday; (above) a peacock and a peafowl inside an enclosure. Pictures by Prashant Mitra
Ranchi, June 29: The capital’s clandestine love affair with animals is almost habitually coming out in the open, leaving forest officials deeply flummoxed.
After home zoos were discovered in Kanke and Doranda, a prominent CBSE school in the city has been caught on camera hosting an animal farm on campus, in gross violation of wildlife laws.
Bariatu-based Hi-Q International Academy, which is run by the World Buddha Foundation (WBF) headquartered in Bodh Gaya, has peacocks, langurs and some exotic birds in enclosures on its sprawling campus to amuse some 400 children who study in the residential school. The school also boasts a swimming pool and aerobics and yoga facilities for its students.
According to wildlife conservation rules, peacock being the national bird cannot be kept in captivity. The langur too is a Schedule II animal under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, which implies that it cannot be kept in a cage or in chains. However, when The Telegraph team visited the campus today, it saw two of the animals fettered.
“Bahut khatarnak hai. Isliye bandh ke rakhna padhta hai. (They are dangerous. So, they have to be kept in chains,” said a caretaker, not willing to be named. “This is a residential school for boys and girls up to Class XII. The campus is always abuzz. We do not want any accident to happen,” he quickly added.
One out of the four peacocks was too found crammed in a small cage while the others strolled in a bigger enclosure. School officials kept referring this correspondent from one person to another when an explanation was sought.
Principal Arvind Kumar pleaded innocence on the ground that he was a fresh appointee. “I am new to this school. I joined only last year and am not the right person to give answers. I will inform the management about your queries,” he kept it short.
So did D. Sai, the joint secretary of WBF, who handles media relations. “Please talk to the chairman,” Sai said, evading pointed questions.
WBF chairman T.N. Chaturvedi, who is based in Ranchi, spoke as briefly. He said the purpose of the private zoo was to “amuse children and nothing else”.
On why the langurs were kept chained, he said: “I never saw them like that. They live on trees. The peacocks too move around freely. The one in cage must have laid eggs.”
He then disconnected the call, saying he was busy with meetings.
Ranchi divisional forest officer (DFO) Y.K. Das maintained that the department had no information about the private zoo, but said his team would inspect the campus tomorrow and act accordingly.
On June 16, attacks by five rogue monkeys in Kanke had exposed the first home zoo run by suspended IAS officer Sajal Chakrabarty. Forest officials caged three of the five simian “pets” after The Telegraph reported the menace.
On June 23, another wildlife team from Ranchi territorial division rescued three more monkeys from Doranda businessman Kunal Basu’s private zoo. However, no action has been taken against the two primate guardians.