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Few takers for SGNP’s animal adoption scheme

The Hindu
New Delhi
15 May 2017

Mumbai: The animal adoption programme of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali, has not tasted much success since it was launched in 2014, with just 14 of the 92 animals available being adopted due to the high costs involved.

On Monday, Ramdas Athavale, Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, formally adopted a leopard called Bheem. Mr. Athavale had announced his intention to do so on May 10.

However, a bulk of the animals available, including lions, leopards, tigers, bison and spotted deer, still remain to be adopted.

The Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) started the animal adoption scheme in 2014, through which citizens, private organisations and non-governmental organisations can adopt animals for one year for a specified amount. The contract can be renewed on an annual basis, and allows the person certain benefits, such as monthly access to the animals and the display of the adopters’ name on the animal’s cage.

The response to the scheme, however, was tepid, with just nine people coming forward to adopt animals in 2014. One of them was Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray, who adopted Yash, a Royal Bengal tiger. His brother, Tejas Thackeray, adopted two rusty spotted cats.

While the Thackeray brothers renewed their contracts in 2015, they haven’t renewed them since July 3, 2016, when the contracts expired.

The number of adopters has only been decreasing, with five adoptions in 2015, three in 2016 and a single adoption in 2017 — that by Mr. Athavale.

Neelam Shah, who adopted a spotted deer in 2015, has renewed her contracts in 2016 as well as in 2017, while Thane reisdent Sadhana Vaze, who adopted a leopard in 2015, renewed her contract renewed in 2016.

“The scheme was introduced in an attempt to offer the public an opportunity to adopt animals and gain monthly access to them. However, it has not been successful, with only 18 people coming forward to adopt animals,” a national park official said.

P.B. Bhalekar, divisional forest official at SGNP, said, “Everyone is aware about the adoption scheme. All we can do is appeal to people to come forward and adopt animals. If people adopt animals, we will be better able to take care of the animals at the park.”