A Travesty That Pushes A Heritage To The Claws Of Peril, The Sad Tale of A Zoo In Odisha

  • | Monday | 30th September, 2019

These days Nandankanan zoo is back in news for a wrong reason and a shocking one. Tourists who visit get to know that they should not go near to the sheds for elephants in captivity.


 D.N. Singh  

Way back in 2000 when a huge thunder-like tragedy struck the famous Nandankanan zoo in Bhubaneswar and within hours, 12 full grown tigers in captivity died of a deadly virus called Trypanosomiasis . 

The news of the tragedy left the people world over dumb-struck. And a day after, another big cat tiger could be seen leaning on its back, with froth oozing out, slowly fell on a side to death, taking the toll to 13.


Ours is a nation where getting reactive is an inescapable mindset and so it was then also when the authorities only woke up to the cause to summon expertise. But that was too late already and 13 Royal Bengal Tigers got exhumed which also buried the reality donned in a bureaucratic apathy. It was called as Trypanosomiasis disease caused by a certain virus.


The zoo, despite many wonderful feats to its credit at the national level, has somehow suffered such rude shocks mainly born out of human neglect or ignorance or procrastination. Wisdom always comes here in hindsight, and the damages were done by then yet we refuse to take a lesson.


These days Nandankanan zoo is back in news for a wrong reason and a shocking one. Tourists who visit get to know that they should not go near to the sheds for elephants in captivity. The reason is obvious and a minor query reveals, how four elephants met with premature deaths following infection by Herpes virus and the pain the victims could not express.


The air around has been saturated with a palpable melancholy that hardly any regular visitor can miss. Eight elephants there have reduced to four only after the deaths of the rest. Reports suggest another elephant inside the Chandaka Elephant sanctuary is battling with the same virus attack.


Visitors to the zoo are seen saddened by the yawning gaps in the sheds and embarrassed by the fact that, some precious lives lost and a vestige of a heritage worn uniforms of official apathy. It is still difficult to know that if the sick elephant in Chandaka is going to survive or not, but for the custodians of the wildlife department such tragedies hardly trigger any tear when the nation keeps ranting the slogans like symbolic nationalism and heritage.


There cannot be worse a contradiction when such, even, symbolism is disguised in cloaks of excuses. That is the real peril we have slowly pushed the heritage to such a pathetic pass.


Casualties of animals in general and elephants in the wild in particular, lace the prime time bulletins those perhaps rebound from the corridors of power. Features like animals in distress fail to jack TRP is not because people do not want to watch and get aware but, it is the sub-standard market mechanism that tucks such news to obscure lengths as ‘ down-market’.


Worse of all comes out of the country’s one of leading Elephant sanctuaries, Chandaka Elephant Sanctuary, now nearly jostling with the ever-expanding urban monstrosity. 


Where the wild elephants were used to be as a hostage in an island, now have gone away and astray. No joke that an elephant sanctuary is not only without elephants the fabulous sanctuary is literally singeing in the heat of unbridled commercialization.


Why those structures were allowed there? That could go to pages to trace into the unholy nexus which is hidden behind the dusty shelves of the officialdom.

We pride over nationalism by erecting an Rs.3,000 crore statute to hail the achievements of Sardar Vallahvbhai Patel but we cannot say no to urbanization nor we can rejuvenate the Chandaka sanctuary through a sincere fortification which would cost a pittance compared to what did the statue cost the exchequer! Very recent inputs say that the herpes virus is staring at other pachyderms in the wild. And, God forbid, if steps are not taken in time, that would be disastrous a fall out for the poor animals.


An overdose of nationalism or heritage may not easy taking along an identity of good nationhood without diversity and so is the case of lives outside humanity. Which is wildlife or climate that needs as an assemblage of common diversity.


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