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A grand scheme to save endangered mammalian fauna

Govt will seek aid of Japan International Cooperation
Last Updated : 09 May 2015, 20:18 IST
Last Updated : 09 May 2015, 20:18 IST
Last Updated : 09 May 2015, 20:18 IST
Last Updated : 09 May 2015, 20:18 IST

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All those wildlife enthusiasts, who drive up to neighbouring Odisha to catch a glimpse of lions roaming around in the safari at Nandankanan, here is some good news for such tourists.

You need not venture out of Bihar if you want to enjoy a lion or tiger safari. The National Wildlife Board (NWB) has cleared a proposal of the Nitish government to establish a safari at Rajgir, around 120 km from Patna.

The Bihar Government’s Forest and Environment Department had sent a proposal to the NWB to establish an animal sanctuary near Rajgir so as to attract more tourists. The department suggested that it wanted to set up a safari for big cats in over 150 hectares close to the existing deer park in 75 hectares in Rajgir.

The first-of-its-kind safari was all the more required here as after bifurcation of the undivided State in November 2000, the only important tourist destination for wildlife enthusiasts – Betla Tiger Reserve – went to Palamu in Jharkhand. A large number of tourists from West Bengal and adjoining Uttar Pradesh still flock to see tiger, leopard and wild buffalo at Betla.

To attract such tourists to Bihar, Forest department Principal Secretary Vivek Kumar Singh moved the proposal to set up a wildlife safari at Rajgir.

“Being first of its kind in the State and one of the few such facilities in this region, this would be a major recreation and educational facility for wildlife and nature conservation. Rajgir being a major tourist destination thronged by international, national and regional visitors and the site being part of suitable wilderness tract in the Pant Wildlife Sanctuary of Rajgir in a valley between the hills of Vyauhargiri and Sonagiri, the location is most appropriate for such a facility. The location also has unique advantage of being veritable
confluence of historical, cultural, religious and natural heritages,” Singh told Deccan Herald.

The Forest Secretary argued that since the location of safari was inside a wildlife sanctuary, the approval of NWB under Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 was necessary. The Standing Committee of board has given recommendation in the meeting of its standing committee held recently. Now the Central Zoo Authority will be approached for approval of the project. The lay-out and master plan for the proposed safari is being finalised in view of certain stipulations and suggestions made by H Singh of Gir Foundation,
Gujarat, and a member of Standing Committee of NBW who had visited the site in January 2015.

“The safari, spread over 191 hectares, will have five large fenced zones for lion, tiger, leopard, bear, herbivore species - chital, sambhar and other deer aggregating 147 hectares. The fencing will be camouflaged and entry and exit will be facilitated with double-gate system. The visitors will be taken in secured vehicles for enchanting and thrilling experience of viewing the wild fauna in more natural and open setting that is different from the ambience of a zoo,” said Singh.

The safari will also have enclosures for snakes and reptiles. It is also planned to have sky zone units outside the safari at vantage locations on the Vyauhargiri and Sonagiri hills from where the tourist and trekkers will be able to watch the wild animals through telescopic vision facilities.

“The complex will also have a facilitation and nature interpretation centre. An animal procurement plan is also under formulation, the stock will be obtained from zoos and other safaris in the country and other appropriate sources. Our own Patna zoo will be one of the prominent donors.

The services of professional consultants are being taken for this purpose and the structures will be designed as per contemporary concepts of imparting unique experience to the visitors as well as ensuring the welfare of the wild animal inmates of the safari. It is also proposed to obtain technical assistance under the Japan International
Cooperation for adoption of state-of-the-art and innovative design features and operation systems to make this centre an excellent facility,” said the secretary.

It will also serve the purpose of preservation of a select endangered large mammalian fauna. The facility will also have the prospect of research in biological conservation of such species.

The secretary said animals will be allowed in the open though their feeding will be handled by the safari employees at the night shelters. “While animals in the zoo remain confined to enclosures, the zoo safari will help the tourists get a real feel of environment,” Singh argued.

The Bihar Government has decided to provide fund for the project at a cost of about Rs 50 crore, spread over five years of the establishment phase.

“There is no need to create big infrastructure to develop the safari project. Certain things like parking zones, basic amenities and animal shelters will not
require a huge sum. Some minor changes will be made in the wildlife zone where there are bamboo trees in bulk,” said Singh.

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Published 09 May 2015, 20:18 IST

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