Captive wild animals at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) will now compete with beef-eating Mumbaikars for their share from the Deonar slaughterhouse. Following the beef ban in the state, the 24 captive leopards, eight tigers and two lions were being fed chicken as the SGNP officials were not getting their share of beef from the Deonar slaughterhouse.
Officials are now in the process of floating tenders seeking fresh water buffalo meat from the Deonar, Thane and Bhiwandi slaughterhouses.
At present, the animals are dependent on frozen meat from the animal husbandry department’s Quality Control Laboratory at Goregaon. The Laboratory tests the legal carabeef meat before it is exported.
While the laboratory came to the rescue of animals, SGNP officials said that the animals were not gaining enough nourishment from the frozen meat.
“The frozen meat from the lab has no blood content and there are no bones also. Meanwhile, fresh meat from Deonar has good blood content and we get bones for the animals as well. These animals need the bone to chew on for more nourishment and so we are in the final stages of floating a tender for fresh beef from the slaughterhouses,” said Shailesh Deore, Superintendent of the lion and tiger safari, SGNP.
The Deonar abattoir generated around 35 tonnes of beef a month before the ban with the slaughter of around 450 bulls, bullock and buffaloes each day.
Currently, around 160 water buffaloes are slaughtered daily generating 20 tonnes of carabeef, according to Dr Keshav Narsapurkar, retired veterinarian of Deonar abattoir, who now works there as a consultant.
The daily requirement at the national park would be around 160-180kg carabeef, meaning that the abattoir will have to provide a monthly supply of 4,200kg, around 20 per cent of Deonar’s production. The animals are fed on all days except Thursday.
According to Deore, on a daily basis, lions at SGNP consume 7 kg, tigers 9 kg and male leopards 2.5 kg, while female leopards consume 2 kg of meat each day. Pork and mutton, other potential meats are not viable alternatives either, said officials, adding that chicken is lean meat and too ‘fibrey’ for these animals.
Both are too fatty for animals in captivity as they get far less exercise than their counterparts in the wild, and could in the long run lead to significant health issues.