KATHMANDU, June 27: A pressure group has been formed to press the government to set up National Zoological Garden in Suryabinayak, Bhaktapur.
The pressure group comprising a technical team, including the representatives from National Trust for Nature Conservation, Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation, Central Zoo, wildlife experts, botanists and community forest user groups, is pushing the government to do the needful to start the initial phase of building NZG within next three months, said Numraj Khanal, Information Officer at the NTNC.
The NZG was supposed to be established as an alternative zoo to the Central Zoo of Jawalakhel, Lalitpur, in 2010, but was stopped due to lack of legislation and policy of zoo.
Khanal informed that the Cabinet has not yet passed the legislation and policy of zoo drafted by Sarita Jnawali, Project Manager at Central Zoo, in consultation with wildlife experts and botanists.
“The NTNC and Central Zoo have already drafted the legislation and policy regarding zoo for the timely establishment of NZG in Bhaktapur, but the Cabinet is yet to pass it, without which implementation is impossible. The NTNC, Central Zoo and MoFSC can proceed with establishment of the NZG only after the legislation and policy is passed by the Cabinet,” said Khanal, adding that operation modality on who should oversee the NZG — NTNC, Central Zoo or MoFSC — is one of the major sticking point.
“The pressure group has been pressing the Cabinet to pass the draft legislation and policy to legalise the establishment of NZG,” he said.
The government had asked NTNC and Central Zoo to carry out the feasibility study around the community forests namely Suryabinayak, Setidevi, Manthali, Gauradevi, Balkumari and Lekhanaryan of Gundu, Sipadol and Katunje VDCs and government administered forests in Bhaktapur in 2014.
He said the alternative zoo would spread over an area of around 245 hectares of land and would be equipped with animal-friendly modern facilities such as zoological garden, recreational centres, animal care centres and animal habitats.
A budget of Rs 10 million has been allocated for the establishment of NZG or alternative zoo where large and endangered wild animals and birds can be protected, sheltered and bred.
The Central Zoo is spread over only 66 hectares of land with mammals, avians, reptiles, amphibians and aquatic species cohabiting within a limited space.
Ganesh Koirala, assistant curator at Central Zoo, said bigger animals like tigers, rhinos, bears, leopards, elephants, crocodiles, hippopotamus, donkeys, zebras, lions, sloth bears and water buffaloes should be ferried to NZG once it is set up.
“Larger animals feel comfortable in bigger enclosures for breeding, habitation and grazing,” he said, adding that the community forest is more animal-friendly and eco-friendly with clean air and water.
The Central Zoo has not been able to bring new animal species, rescued wild animals or endangered animals and birds due to lack of space and sturdy enclosures.
A version of this article appears in print on June 28, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.