Cannot keep rescued reptiles at Veer Mata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan and Zoo in Byculla: BMC

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Thursday rejected suggestions to relocate/ house snakes/reptiles rescued from residential areas in Veer Mata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan and Zoo in Byculla. Such snakes/ reptiles cannot be kept in the zoo at Byculla, the zoo administration too has clarified.

Shiv Sena corporator Vaishali Navin Shewale in 2018 demanded that a ward wise list of trained Sarpmitra (Snake catchers) be made available in all 24 wards and a committee be formed to frame SoPs on relocation of these snakes especially rare species in Zoo. Shewale moved a notice of motion (NM) regarding the same on December 14, 2018. The same was approved by te general body and was sent to the BMC commissioner’s office for his feedback/opinion.

"The number of incidents where in snakes /reptiles being spotted in residential colonies and slum areas has increased. There are cases where people kill the snakes. We need to ensure rare and endangered species of snakes do not get killed in such encounters. Hence I had suggested that ward wise list trained snake catchers be made available in ward offices and BMC website for citizens. These rescued snakes be then relocated at Byculla Zoo in Mumbai or Katraj Snake Park in Pune," Shewale told the Free Press Journal.

However, the civic officials and zoo administration have clearly ruled out the idea of relocating these rescued snakes in zoo stating it is against CZA norms. "We have to follow the rules stipulated by the CZA on housing the number of animals / species in the zoo. We cannot house rescued snakes, reptiles like this. We have clarified this as this does not come under he purview of zoo authority but Forest department, who have assigned trained snake catchers/ snake friends for this task. They rescue and release these snakes/ reptiles into the wild," said Dr Sanjay Tripathi, director of Mata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan and Zoo.

According to the Central Zoological Authority (CZA) guidelines , a limited number of wild animals and birds of certain species are displayed in the recognized zoos. Accordingly, Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyaan and Zoo in Byculla is categorised as a medium zoo. There are various species of wild animals, birds on display. "There are Various animal rescue centers and animal husbandry centers that are functioning under the state Forest Department for the conservation of all the animals and birds in different parts of Maharashtra, including Mumbai. If snakes are found in the city, they are caught with the help of serpent friends appointed by the forest department and released into the forest. Therefore, there is no need to set up a committee for this, we have clarified," said a senior BMC official.

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