New Delhi: Government Monday announced setting up of a Centre for Zoo Sciences to assist recognised Indian zoos as well as zoos in South Asia in their development and management on scientific lines.
"We will have a Centre for Zoo Sciences," Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said, adding there will be facilities for teaching, research, experiments and sharing of ideas like in universities
"We are thinking of setting up a Centre for Zoo Sciences in New Delhi to bring about a turn around in the functioning of the zoos and to infuse scientific and technical culture in the present system and make our zoos more visitor friendly," he said.
The Minister was speaking after inaugurating the 69th annual conference of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums here. World zoo leaders have gathered in the national capital to attend the conference to be concluded on November 6.
Talking to PTI, officials in the Environment Ministry said the proposed center is visualised to act as a Technical Advisor to the Central Zoo Authority and provide expert help to the states and Union Territories in 'ex-situ' conservation breeding of endangered species.
It is envisaged to function as a referral centre for captive wild animal housing, zoo designing, master planning, disease diagnosis, visitor facilitations, marketing and other related issues for all the zoos in the country as well as for the zoos of the South Asia, they said.
Training courses for in service zoo personnel and stakeholders in India as well as for zoo personnel of South Asian countries will be organised at the center.
There will be facilities to conduct applied and field research in 'ex-situ' wildlife conservation and maintenance of "long-term National Studbooks for endangered species in Indian zoos in the proposed center," officials said.
Studbooks is an important tool in scientifically managing ex situ population of wild animals and ensuring their sufficient size, demographic stability and high level of genetic diversity.
They said since its inception in 1992, the Central Zoo Authority has evaluated 347 zoos, out of which 164 have been recognised and 183 denied recognition.
Out of 183 zoos refused recognition, 92 have been closed down and their animals relocated suitably. Cases of the remaining 91 derecognised zoos are currently under review, they said.
Addressing the programme, Javadekar said the theme of the conference "Bio-diversity is Us" was quite appropriate for India, a land of diverse habitat eco-system, culture, religion, tradition, language and food.
This was also manifested in the country's cultural tradition that preserved about 13,270 secret groves across the country by the people, he said.
The Minister said India with only 2.4 per cent of the world's land area was home to 7-8 per cent of the world's bio-diversity spanning across 91,000 species of animals and 45,000 species of plants.
It also had four of the 34 globally identified biodiversity hotspots, supports about 50 per cent of the world's tiger population and 60 per cent of Asian elephant and rhino population including the only surviving population of the Asiatic lion.
Javadekar also highlighted the initiatives undertaken by the Ministry for the conservation of endangered species.
The Government has also initiated a programme for disaster management in the zoos in order to deal with recent incidents involving visitors inadvertently falling into the animal enclosures, the Minister said.
He also mentioned that the action plan for the conservation of vultures had been a great success with support being offered for conservation breeding centre for 23 species which included various endangered species.
World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) has organized the five day conference to initiate discussions and create public awareness about preserving bio-diversity and contributing towards achieving targets for global biodiversity conservation.