National Conference for zoo directors and veterinarians- 2021

Pashu Sandesh,12 October 2021

A two day National Conference for zoo directors and veterinarians was held in Kevadia (Gujarat) on 10-11 October 2021. The conference was organized by Central Zoo Authority (CZA) and hosted by Sardar Patel Zoological Park Kevadia. The conference was attended by the Union Minister of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Bhupendra Yadav, Union Minister of State (MoEF&CC), Ashwini Kumar Choubey, officers of ministry, CZA, NTCA, WII, WLCCB, zoo directors and veterinarians and NGO personals. 

The objective of the conference was to discuss the contribution of zoos in the conservation of wildlife and public awareness & education and the challenges faced by zoos and how best these can be mitigated. A 10-year vision plan of CZA was presented at the conference.

Speaking on this occasion union minister Bhupendra Yadav said that, revenue is the major bottleneck in the operation of zoos. This problem can be addressed by involving, public-private partnerships (PPP) and Corporate Social Responsibility(CSR). He acknowledged the role of field staff in wildlife conservation and assured them protection and dignity. He also asked the zoos to conserve local birds and animals along with the wild and forest animals.

Speaking on this occasion forest and environment minister of Gujarat Kiritsinh Rana informed that construction of Sardar Patel Zoological Park Kevadia which is spread over an area of 375 acres was completed in a record time of 6 months.

In his welcome address, Dr Satya Prakash Yadav member secretary CZA informed that there are 500 species of wildlife in 150 zoos spread across the country and eight crore people visit these zoos annually. He said that CZA in collaboration with the zoos across the country is celebrating Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav. The theme for the celebration has been to showcase 75 species across 75 Zoos through massive outreach programs in 75 weeks.

Additional director general (wildlife)  MoEF&CC Soumitra  Dasgupta in his address shared that to mitigate the shortage of veterinary support services, the department has requested the veterinary council of India (VCI) to include wildlife training modules in various undergraduate and postgraduate vet degree programmers. He further shared that, there is a need to create a separate cader for veterinary doctors working in the wildlife sector and the government is taking steps in this direction. He also proposed some new ideas like marine zoos, space for aquatic animals in zoos, virtual zoo tourism, open area zoos and ex situ research.

The publications of CZA namely Vision Plan (2021-2031) for Indian zoos, WASH Manual for Zoos, and AzadiKa Amrit Mahotsav – A Compilation (Vol 1) were released at the conference.

 At the valedictory, Sudha Murthy, Chairperson of Infosys Foundation was felicitated for her CSR support to zoos and her compassion towards wild animals. 

A movie titled ‘Live in harmony with nature, stop the illegal trade in wildlife’ produced by (WCCB) was also released during the conference.

The Prani Mitra Awards 2021 were also delivered at the conference. The winners in each category are: 

  • Outstanding Animal Keeper: Shrimati Lakhidevi, Bhagwan Birsa zoological Park, Ranchi Jharkhand 
  • Outstanding Educationist/ Biologist: Harpal Singh, Educationist Mahendra Chaudhary Zoological Park Chatbir, Punjab 
  • Outstanding Veterinarian: Dr Illiyaraja, Agra Bear Rescue Facility, Uttar Pradesh 
  • Outstanding Director: Dr Vibhu Prakash Mathur, Director Vulture Conservation Breeding Centre, Pinjore Haryana