Chicken feed for Tata zoo inmates

Supply of buffalo meat stops in fear of cursed Rajnagar route, carnivores in animal habitat suffer

By Jayesh Thaker
  • Published 27.05.17
Lioness Salya and tiger Vivan (below) at Tata zoo in Jamshedpur on Friday. Pictures by Bhola Prasad

It's buff, not beef. Yet, the Muslim buffalo meat suppliers to Tata Steel Zoological Park in Jamshedpur are so scared after the May 18 lynchings at Rajnagar, Seraikela-Kharsawan, that they have refused to bring meat from Odisha.

Scaring possibly all cattle traders and buffalo meat suppliers of the minority community who use the Haldipokhar-Hata-Rajnagar route are the lynchings of four cattle traders in Rajnagar where the official reason continues to be child-lifter rumours but villagers at the lynch hub feel otherwise.

So, as cattle and buffalo meat traders are too scared to make the to-and-fro journey on the Haldipokhar-Hata-Rajnagar route, which the Muslim victims of lynching presumably used, fresh supplies of buffalo meat are not coming to the steel city since a week.

The two Jamshedpur-based suppliers used to bring buffalo meat to the steel city from Odisha's Baripada.

As buffalo meat stocks at the zoo exhausted on Friday, 23 resident carnivores, including the five pure-bred African lions and four tigers, are on a chicken diet from now.

In the prevailing climate of tension after lynchings, Tata zoo director Bipul Chakravarty admitted buffalo meat supply had been "disrupted" but kept it brief. "We are trying to overcome the crisis," he said but did not dwell much into the matter.

"The carnivores are for now being fed chicken as there is no option," zoo vet Manik Palit said.

A zoo source who did not come on record was more forthcoming.

"The crisis was felt after the stock of buffalo meat got over this (Friday) morning. We had been mixing chicken with stocked buffalo meat to feed the five lions, four tigers, four leopards, three hyenas and seven crocodiles. But as buffalo meat stock is over and there is no hope of replenishment at least for now, 200kg of chicken was procured from the local market to feed the carnivores on Friday," he said.

He said the zoo had a 200kg capacity freezer.

"As buffalo meat supply from Odisha's Baripada was uneven after the state ban on slaughterhouses in March for various reasons, we procured 120kg buffalo meat a day to keep something extra at hand instead of the normal 80kg," he said.

In Jharkhand, buffalo meat is legal but not beef or cow meat. Still, it has been learnt that the two zoo suppliers used to hide buffalo meat and fear being accosted.

When the state banned unlicensed slaughterhouses in March, the zoo, which procured buffalo meat from Odisha's Baripada, had to ensure that the abattoirs concerned were licensed.

Animals were put on chicken diet when it was learnt that the Baripada slaughterhouse's licence had expired. For almost the whole of April, zoo carnivores survived on chicken diet. Early this month, when the Baripada slaughterhouse renewed its licence, the supply became normal. Till the May 18 lynchings.

Should the state step in to ensure buffalo meat supply for the zoo? Tell