February 5, 2009 1:34:54 am
Activists of People for Animals,a non-governmental organisation headed by Maneka Gandhi,on Wednesday filed a complaint with the state state Forest Department against the garden department authorities of Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) for alleged illegal confinement of two turtles and a terrapin at the aquarium in Sambhaji Park on J M Road.
Acting on a tip-off by environment activist Vinod Jain,the animal welfare officr of People for Animal Manoj Oswal visited Sambhaji Park in the morning. Oswal said,”The turtles called “soft-shelled turtles” belong to the highly endangered species and enjoy the same level of protection as the Tiger and the Elephant. At the Park aquarium,the turtles were kept in captivity,which is a violation of the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA),”
“As per the section 36 H of WPA 1972 and Central Zoo Rules 1992,only recognized zoos can keep wild animals under captivity,” Oswal said,and added,”We have filed a complaint with Dilip Burkhe,range forest officer,Pune range,against the garden department authorities of PMC.” The garden department authorities however removed the turtles from the captivity some time after the environmental activists and media persons visited the aquarium at Sambhaji Park. When contacted,Yashwant Khaire,garden superintendent said,”We got the turtles from private persons a few days ago. We were planning to send the turtles to an orphanage. The turtles were temporarily kept in the captivity because the aquarium in-charge was busy. I don’t know more details as I was in Mumbai for some official work. But the PMC has always supported wildlife protection.”
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