Rajasthan state Forest Department has proposed to construct a zoo inside Keoladeo National Park, a World Heritage Site formerly/popularly known as Bharatpur bird sanctuary.
About the Keoladeo National Park –
- The 29 kilometre square reserve (locally known as Ghana) is a famous avifauna sanctuary in Bharatpur (Rajasthan, India).
- It is known for its rich biological diversity and that hosts thousands of birds, especially during the winter season.
- It was notified as a bird sanctuary in 1956 and established as a national park in 1982 and is also a World Heritage Site.
- It is a wetland (man-made and man-managed) of international importance (a Ramsar site) for migratory waterfowl, where birds migrating down the Central Asian flyway congregate before dispersing to other regions.
- At time of inscription, it was the wintering ground for the Critically Endangered Siberian Crane, and is habitat for large numbers of resident nesting birds.
- This is the only park in India that is completely enclosed by a 2 m high boundary wall that minimises the possibilities of any encroachment and biotic disturbances, but there is no possibility of a buffer zone.
Purpose of the zoo (WESCE Plan) –
- According to the Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the Rajasthan Forestry and Biodiversity Development Project (RFBDP), the WESCE aims –
- To rejuvenate the biodiversity of Keoladeo National Park,
- Thereby boosting its outstanding universal values.
- The WESCE plan is part of the ambitious RFBDP for which Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the overseas development arm of the French government, has agreed to fund up to Rs 12 crore over eight years.
- According to the DPR, several facilities are planned inside Keoladeo national park, including –
- A breeding and reintroduction centre for locally extinct species (otters, fishing cats, blackbucks, hog deer, etc).
- An aquarium for indigenous species like Gangetic Dolphin, crocodiles; enclosures for the display of large wetland species like Indian Rhino, Water Buffalo, Barasingha (swamp deer); etc.
- Experts have raised questions about the proposed zoo coming up in a globally significant habitat for migratory birds.
- Out of concern, the forest department has decided to move the construction work 1-2 km away from the (national park) boundary where there is adequate forest land.