The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has sought an investigation and detailed report from the Gujarat government over alleged violation of wildlife norms and reported deaths of a few animals meant for a jungle safari project near the Statue of Unity, according to official documents. The move comes following a complaint by wildlife activist Ajay Dubey who said that many wild animals, claimed to have been brought illegally into India from abroad, have allegedly died. Citing Dubey's complaint, the CZA recently directed the chief wildlife warden of Gujarat to get the matter investigated and submit a factual report for necessary action. A copy of the CZA letter seeking investigation and report was shared with Dubey.
The CZA is a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. Its main objective is to complement and strengthen the national effort in conservation of the country's rich biodiversity, among others. Every zoological park in the country is required to obtain recognition from the CZA for its operation.
A number of animals and birds have been brought to Gujarat from 17 countries for the jungle safari inside the yet-to-be inaugurated Sardar Patel Zoological Park being developed near the Statue of Unity at Kevadia in Narmada district. The 182-metre statue of India's first home minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in October last year. The world-class zoo, which is being developed, is part of a plan to make the region near the Statue of Unity a major tourist attraction. Lions, tigers, leopards, 12 types of deer and antelopes, giraffes, zebras, rhinos, bison, and other exotic animals have arrived at the safari park from 17 countries. They have been kept in the safari park, Rajiv Gupta, managing director of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNL), had said recently.
However, there have been reports of deaths of animals that were brought to the zoo. At least two impalas and a giraffe have died within one month, activist Dubey said citing recent media reports. There have been deaths of wild animals, which were brought illegally from abroad, for the jungle safari project, he claimed.