The Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) in Mumbai has again invited citizens, corporates and institutions to adopt animals such as lion, tiger, leopard, rusty-spotted cat, blue bull, barking deer and spotted deer for up to one year upon paying a fee.
From the inception of this Central Zoo Authority-approved scheme in 2013 to last year, 20 animals have been adopted at a total charge of Rs 16.6 lakh annually. The scheme is seen as a viable option to provide financial assistance to rescue centres and zoological parks in the country and create awareness among the public about the conservation of captive animals.
As per the scheme, a tiger can be adopted at a yearly fee of Rs 3.10 lakh, lion Rs 3 lakh, leopard Rs 1.20 lakh, rusty-spotted cat Rs 50,000, blue bull Rs 30,000, spotted deer Rs 20,000 and barking deer Rs 10,000. The money is used for the upkeep of the animals and the adopters would get a chance to visit the adoptee animals once a week without any charge.
The big cats were brought into SGNP from places such as Bannerghatta National Park in Karnataka and Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh. But the leopards in captivity are largely the ones trapped in and around Mumbai during the height of the human-leopard conflict from 2003 to 2005. These leopards have been in captivity due to their serious injuries and old age. Recently, tigers and leopard cubs were brought in from the Nagpur rescue centres.
Some of the prominent individuals who have adopted animals are Maharashtra Environment and Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray and his brother Tejas, Union minister Ramdas Athawale, actor Raveena Tandon, and former cricketer Sandeep Patil.