Senior officials of the state forest department have sought assistance from two local civic bodies to upgrade the Bengal Safari park’s infrastructure.
Rajendra Jakhar, the chief conservator of forests (wildlife, north), said that on Friday they held a meeting with representatives of Siliguri Municipal Corporation and Siliguri-Jalpaiguri Development Authority.
“We have asked civic authorities and the SJDA to assist us to improve the existing infrastructure and bring more animals to the park,” said Jakhar.
Sources said that the park, located on the fringes of Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary in the northeast fringes of Siliguri, needs financial assistance to upgrade its infrastructure. Being a one-of-its-kind destination in north Bengal where visitors can see animals in open enclosures, the park is a popular tourist destination.
Foresters said that the move is vital at a time when like other state departments, the forest department has been asked to maintain austerity keeping in mind the state’s paucity of funds.
“The idea is to make the park self-reliant so that its maintenance cost can be met from its earnings. So far, certain initiatives like animal and bird adoption and launch of adventure sports have been taken up to increase revenue. But for more revenue, infrastructure has to be increased and more animals brought in. That is why we want local authorities to support us,” said a forest officer.
On Friday’s meeting, suggestions were made to bring animals like the rhino, giraffe, blackbuck and hog deer to the park through animal exchange programmes to increase footfall at the park.
“We have a rhino here, but there is a proposal to get one or two more rhinos,” said a source.