Awaiting guests: Bhagwan Birsa Biological Park, Ranchi
Ranchi’s animal kingdom is eyeing blessings from Odisha’s garden of god.
The new guardian of Bhagwan Birsa Biological Park in Ormanjhi, 15km from the capital, has decided to explore a possible tie-up with the very distinguished Nandankanan.
Birsa zoo director A.K. Patra, who took charge on Monday, said he would visit the neighbouring state in the last week of March and broach the issue with officials there. “The zoo and botanical garden in Odisha is one of the oldest and largest in the country. If an animal exchange programme can be worked out with Nandankanan, it will turn the wheel of fortune for Ranchi zoo,” he said.
The veteran forester sounded bullish about a tie-up.
“Since I hail from Odisha, I have known Nandankanan in and out. Besides, officials there either happen to be my batchmates or juniors at university. So, we share a personal bond, which will help me take Birsa zoo ahead,” he said, adding that if all went well, a formal announcement would follow his Holi visit to hometown.
Spread over 400 hectares, Nandankanan is nearly four times larger than the Ormanjhi zoo. It boasts nearly 1,600 animals and birds from as many as 126 species. The enviable collection includes 15-odd species of endangered mammals, six species of endangered birds and 10 of endangered reptiles, which are listed in Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act (1972).
The Odisha zoo is unique in many other ways. White tigers were born to fawn-coated feline parents at Nandankanan in 1980. The same year it piloted a breeding programme for the endangered gharials. In 1991, a white tiger safari was launched. Currently, it has conservation breeding centres for the Indian pangolin, the white-backed vulture and the mouse deer. Nandankanan is also the first in the country to become a member of World Association of Zoos & Aquariums (WAZA).
On the contrary, Birsa zoo is spread over 104 hectares and roughly has 1,100 animals from 40 species on its rolls. Bureaucratic hassles have bogged down several ambitious projects like the butterfly park, the fish house and aquarium and giraffe and zebra import.
Patra claimed that tender documents had been forwarded to the state administration for all these projects. “The aquarium and fish park is my priority. Construction of the park is long over, but the aquarium was facing hurdles. We have started work to sort out problems,” he said.
Wildlife enthusiasts can, meanwhile, beware of the Ides of March!
The zoo director said the snake park, which was closed in October-November last year, would reopen on March 15. “The reptiles were hibernating so long. Now that winter is over, they have started coming out of their holes. So, the first thing I did (after assuming charge on Monday) was to pass an order to open the park from Friday,” Patra added.
Do you think the animal exchange programme will work out?