Bhagwan Birsa Biological Park’s animal adoption scheme seems to have fallen prey to the depreciating Indian economy.
Close to a month has gone by since the zoo authorities had floated maiden brochures and rate charts both offline and online, but not a single corporate house or social organisation has evinced interest, with the rupee hitting an all-time low against elite currencies like the dollar and the pound.
The only consolation for Birsa zoo in these desperate times is that at least a handful of individuals have come forward to parent its inmates.
According to zoo director A.K. Patra, four persons had approached them this month. “One has already adopted, while the others are in the process of doing so,” he said.
Zoo vet Ajay Kumar said Avinash Anand, a software engineer working in Bangalore, had recently adopted a civet cat for Rs 23,000 (annual fee). Waiting in the wings are retired professor and vet J.P. Srivastava, young Ranchi businessman Nitish and Khunti-based rural development official Belamati Jonko.
So, why are corporate firms playing stingy? Is it just the market slump?
A senior zoo official said that while the rupee plunge was a deterrent, Jharkhand’s skewed industrial policy was a major impediment too.
“Economic slowdown is a combination of Indian and global factors. If you feel the industrial pulse, you will know it is feeble because successive governments did precious little apart from signing MoUs. The growth ambience remains challenged despite industrial big wigs investing crores in infrastructure because they are unable to start production. Amid all this headache who would want to adopt a zoo animal?” he said.
The official, who did not wish to be named, however, said that they were hoping that individual interest would show the way to organisations.
Zoo director Patra said they had devised a “new strategy” to rope in industry captains. He said adoption brochures had been sent to the forest department’s environment development and wasteland wings earlier this month since the latter is the nodal agency that gives companies clearances for projects involving forest diversions.
“I have requested department officials to hand over our brochures to companies that approach for forest clearances. We can convince companies for embracing the scheme once the foresters intimate us about those that have received the brochures,” Patra said.
Two years ago, only three corporate entities — SAIL, Mecon and Punjab National Bank — had adopted animals from Birsa zoo.
While lack of incentives are keeping organisations away, either sheer love for the wild or income tax rebate are motivating individual parents.
Said Khunti official Jonko: “Besides rural development projects, I also intend to work for conservation of wildlife in the future. I had wanted to adopt an animal for quite sometime, but did not know how to go about it. Recently, I read reports in newspapers and approached Birsa zoo officials.” A baby monkey, which comes with an annual price tag of Rs 13,000, will have her as a parent in the next couple of days.