The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is considering shifting the birds and reptiles enclosures of Byculla zoo to Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Garden, next to Powai Lake. However, the plan has not gone down well with everyone.
Among the dissenting voices is the founder of Young Environmentalists’ Programme Trust, Elsie Gabriel, who told TOI: “It is not a good idea to shift caged birds and reptiles from the Byculla zoo to new cages in the Powai garden. This may have been done by the corporation to attract tourists, but is detrimental to the animals.”
Byculla zoo director Anil Anjankar said the enclosures, which were a part of the zoo revamp programme, would be shifted to the Powai garden. “Babasaheb Ambedkar Garden is owned by the BMC and is 30 acres in size. We thought there would be more space in Powai to keep birds of different species. We are looking at all kinds of birds – both foreign and Indian,” he said. “The Byculla zoo will be used only for mammals. We are planning to send the proposal to the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) for approval,” Anjankar added.
Gabriel said worldwide, the perspective was shifting towards free, natural sanctuaries instead of “jails” or cages. “Karnala Bird Sanctuary in Raigad is a good example of a natural sanctuary for animals. Let us not create another zoo-like situation at Powai,” said Gabriel.
Recently, mayor Jadhav visited the Powai garden along with Young Environmentalists’ Programme Trust members to check the ecology of the area.
Powai Lake has seen a number of bird species; some of them being common & white-throated kingfishers, herons, small blue kingfishers and wild fowls. So, why have birds in captivity for show like at the zoo, questioned Gabriel, adding that the crocodiles in the lake have already been disturbed due to the beautification drive, which included heavy concretization along the lake’s periphery.
“There was also talk of having three artificial water fountains inside the lake, which all the residents opposed strongly as it would affect the avian life there,” she said.