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Bijni park served showcause notice

Bongaigaon, Aug. 6: Lack of proper infrastructure and space crunch are the main reasons for the bottleneck in the development of Bijni deer park in Chirang district.

The Central Zoo Authority has issued a showcause notice to the zoo for not adhering to scientific management guidelines and has asked them on what grounds should the recognition granted to the zoo still be maintained.

Bijni deer park, better known as Bijni park and mini zoo, was established in 1986 at Bhetagaon in the northwestern part of Bijni town and is about 165km from Guwahati.

A signboard at the entrance of the park displays its name as Bijni Vana Udyana, Bijni Social Forestry, Bijni.

The park is spread over an area of 1.5 hectares (10 bighas) of land and also has a pond.

In the beginning, the park had 48 deer, seven pythons, five monkeys, four hornbills, six peacocks, 12 parakeets, 50 pumping pigeons, four tortoises, one cheetah and one civet cat. It also had 10 rabbits, 15 guinea pigs, two porcupines, 15 squirrels, five hawks, two doves, 100 chirping birds and some ornamented fishes, who were all taken care by eight care-takers.

Sources said the department concerned never gave importance resulting in neglect, which forced animals to leave the park in search of better food and shelter in the nearby jungles.

The park now houses only 29 deer (28 Indian hog deer and one barking deer) and four swans. Three gardeners, a watchman and two office staff take care of these animals.

The deer, which are enclosed within half a bigha of land by wire fencing in the park, do not have space even for free movement.

The boundary walls of the park do not have sufficient height to protect the deer.

“A sum of Rs 500 is required daily to feed the deer,” said Dipak Das, who is a casual caretaker at the park.

“Veterinary doctors rarely visit the park to provide medical aid to the deer and when they do, they charge Rs 500 as consultation fee,” said Arun Das, the deputy ranger of the Bijni forest department.

Though Abraham Iswary, the divisional forest officer of Chirang district, said he has not received any showcause notice from the Central Zoo Authority, he admitted that lack of proper infrastructure and space crunch were the main causes for the lack of development in the park.

Kampa Borgoyari, the deputy chief of Bodoland Territorial Council, who is also the in-charge of the forest department under the council, said his council has been providing recurring expenditure for the park every year.

As the existing land in the park is insufficient to keep the deer in, it has been decided to shift the deer to Elaisijhar reserve forest in Kokrajhar district.

Borgoyari said his department has not received permission yet from the animal rehabilitation centre to shift the deer, but the animals would be shifted from the park anyhow, he added.