The Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change has released the Vision Plan (2021-2031) for Indian zoos. While the Vision Plan aims to upgrade Indian zoos to global standards, the focus is on conserving local birds and animals.
The Vision Plan was released at the two-day National Conference for zoo directors and veterinarians, organized by Central Zoo Authority and hosted by Sardar Patel Zoological Park, Kevadia, Gujarat.
As part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations, a coffee table book compiling 75 species across 75 zoos was also launched. Furthermore, Mitra awards were presented under four categories, namely, outstanding contributions by zoo director/ curator, biologist/ educationists, veterinarian, and the animal keeper/ zoo frontline.
Vision Plan (2021-2031)
For sustainable development, biodiversity must be conserved. India occupies only 2.4% of the world’s land area, yet accounts for 7-8% of all recorded species, including over 45,000 species of plants and 91,000 species of animals.
Vision Plan 2021- 2031 is a strategy for the transformation of Indian zoos. The 10-year vision plan has been incorporated after extensive data mining and consultation with stakeholders. The Plan aims to give a direction towards ex-situ conservation approaches in India.
The plan also mentions 10 pillars of change for the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) and Indian zoos. It has laid down specific targets and timelines to achieve the ‘Call to Action’ to be realized in 10 years. These pillars include strengthening ex situ conservation of endangered native species, optimizing animal welfare, management of rescued animals, among several others.
Aims global standards
The Vision Plan (2021-2031) aims towards upgrading Indian zoos to global standards and strengthening of Central Zoo Authority (CZA). The other goal is to make CZA and other Indian zoos a stronger force for the conservation of animals and birds by providing unparalleled animal care, cutting-edge research.
The 10-year plan is directed towards improving the visitor experiences of people of all ages.
Birds & animal conservation
Union Environment Minister, Bhupender Yadav also asked zoos across the country to focus on local birds and animals as priority species for conservation. There are several birds and animals in India that are on the verge of extinction and categorized as vulnerable and endangered.
Reiterating the importance of protection of wildlife, wild habitats, and natural resources, the Union Minister called for the protection of wildlife and wild habitats. He also stressed the importance of conservation awareness and its value in conflict mitigation strategies.
The Union Environment Minister suggested zoos and Nagar Vans to prepare short and long-term action plans with the help of zoo officials.
As of today, there are more than 150 recognized zoos and rescue centers in the country that adhere to the guidelines and high standards of wild animal welfare.
Endangered Indian birds & animals
Endangered species are those species of animals, plants, birds, or insects whose existence is threatened over some time, triggered by mindless human activities that affect their habitat or distort their food cycle, thus pushing them on the verge of extinction.
India’s land inhabits diverse and exquisite species of wildlife. It is home to about 7.6% of the world’s mammals, 14.7% of amphibians, 6% of birds, 6.2% of reptilians, and 6.0% of flowering plant species. India’s forest lands nurture about 500 species of mammals and more than 2,000 species of birds.
In 1994, 9 Indian birds were on the list of endangered which increased to 18 in 2013. Some of these unique and endemic species of birds and animals are on the verge of extinction. These include –
– Animals such as Red Panda, Bengal Tiger, Gangetic Dolphins, Asian Elephant, One-horned Rhino, Black Buck, Nilgiri Langoor, Sambar, Gaur among several others.
– Rare and endangered migratory species of birds found in India such as the Black Necked Crane, Great Indian Bustard, Bar Headed Geese, Himalayan Griffon, Sarus Cranes, Houbara Bustard, etc. have been listed under Schedule-I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, thereby requiring the highest degree of protection.
– Critically endangered birds in India include White-bellied Heron, Pink-headed Duck, Bengal Florican, Indian Vulture, Siberian Crane, Forest Owlet, Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Jerdon’s Courser, among several other species.