Saturday, May 17, 2008

Visiting katraj

was a heart-crushing experience.

I don't consider myself to be a "animal-lover". Honestly, I like plants better. But various kinds of living beings are fascinating aren't they? Observing them tells you so much about them. Just the royal expression on the face of a leopard when he is seated in his territory, or the way tiny fantails flutter around putting their backsides on display :-P

The very reason I was so excited to visit a "zoological park" situated so close to pune where I currently temporarily reside. Katraj is just a little better than the normal zoos we see around. The animals are not in their natural habitat, but they r not in cages either. They have their confined area that is internally lined by a deep furrow so that prevents the animals from escaping. When I was entering the "Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park", little did I know, I had my hopes too high. I expected to see variety, I would be honest, which I got. But the animals were in pain, even though the zoo officials failed to recognize that. Seeing sloth bear was educating, but the poor fellow trying his level best to cool his body in the dry heat in pune by sitting in the 1 feet deep minute water clearing, was saddening. No effort was done to plant some trees around the water reserve, to provide the endangered tropical species with some shade. I can't erase his expression from my mind. His rigorous effort to get some cool breeze in him lungs made me feel helpless. Worst, there were people all over, prompting him to do the "stunt" all over again. I guess he lost interest in humans who know just to point and chose to walk off undercover near his buddies. I couldn't look at him for more than 10 seconds, yes, I am sensitive towards fellow species.

Next in line, the legendary black bucks. Big herd, impressive horns, beautiful environment in which they were placed. BUT, just 1 male with 20 odd female counter-parts :-| Moreover, he seemed least interested in any other female and just kept chasing a particular one. Ask zoologists the reason for that :-P

Crocodile lying like there has been a drought, with its limbs facing the sky and a hopeless expression on its face. Turtles, cute, but too little water enough for a group of ten caged in a cage entitled "Indian python" :-| One white tiger in one corner of a massive cage, not willing to show himself to the interfering humans. Vultures, grand! but in a large cage. Worse, eagles in a cage disappointing.
It was supposed to be specially a snake park, but few species there and all of them repeated. Many glass boxes, empty, bearing just the name-tag and a plastic plant planted on the dead soil. Some snake species that has appreciable population, kept in open cemented deep chambers, that has living plants and water. And people feeding these snakes with "biscuits" :-| Yes, not everyone knows what a particular animal consumes, but snakes and Parle G?

People who were with me are hardcore zoology students and had been to nature trails and spotted tigers with their cubs in their natural habitat. According to them, this was no fun. Maybe they are right, but what has remained of our fellow species? what are they, a mode of entertainment? In sanctuaries, snake being held given to hold in hand and people fascinated to wind pythons around their necks [in strict supervision of an expert]. What has become of these mighty consumers? ornaments? People treating a leopard like it were a street dog. I, in no-way support people shooing dogs, but a "choo" to a leopard?

Well, some experiences will last with me forever. Like seeing the male black buck running around his territory and the beauty in the eyes of the females belonging to the same species. Some members of the cat family, royal that they are. The best experience being watching two cobras face to face, with hoods open. We were too spellbound to capture the thing in a photograph, well, photography wasn't officially allowed. Then after some time of looking into each other in the eye, one stuck the other and both of them gave up.

One amusing incident that happened while in the zoo. One small bridge that connected the zoo had a stream flowing and around it was covered by trees. We live in a area that has too many bird species and we love to hang around in the balcony trying to identify various kinds of birds. Kruttika, who is kinda good at it, has enlightened me about the presence of so many types of birds around. Well, she was unable to identify just one species among the few we saw and as these are local to pune, they were in there in katraj too. While crossing the tiny bridge, she spotted the bird and called all the rest of us to try and identify it. We were six of us, I being the least aware of kinds of species, still, interested. All the six of us, started trying to spot the bird and as I was among the first ones to see it, started pointing it out to my friends. Now, the bird was small, and camouflaged, and a native! When we stood along the bridge and started to point at something, about 30 odd people crashed onto the bridge looking at all possible directions and pointing at all possible things. We, interested in just the bird, did not recognize the situation. It was when we got aware of a man convincing his kids of some random rock to be an animal that we realize of what was actually happening around and chose to quietly walk off, just to burst out laughing a minute later. True, people will do anything that looks cool, without even trying to analyze the situation.

We went boating in the lake to have a look at the normal fauna of the area. The maynas and tailor birds, locally inhabited in the forests were more fascinating, coz they were free! So, why weren't the other species allowed to be on their own? Who gave us the right to captivate them? To isolate them form their habitat and point fingers on them and ask them to act our slaves?

Can anything be done about this?


Alok said...

Sometimes I feel nothing can be done.
And then I know it can be. But that will require us to make heavy sacrifices. No one wants to do that.

Sometimes I think we would have been better off in Jungles...

Anyways, I think one solution of this would be a public demand towards an environmental cause.
Utilizing the power of Capitalism would definitely do wonders. The only thing is, we haven't yet desired it.

Aditi ''Jiggs'' said...


well thats y i hate visiting zoos
cant see the animals in pain :(
due to lack of funds n mismanagement these animals suffer the lost n
now puttin them back to thr own enviornment wont work cz they have been managed by the huamns for too long n also spoon fed for food n all other requirements.
n callin them wild life is an understate cz they cant do anything on their on. :(:(
well all i can say is mass public awareness scale more fundin n can only improve thr state.
i feel sad really sad i can understand wt u felt infact in national parks too the conditions r really bad :(

gunj said...

omg...i really cant say much out their misery but d bucks havin 1:20 male to female ratio sure sounds disturbin enuff to me!
being a woman, i sympathise with d other 18 ladies in thr!

Express said...

@ alok
Suggesting solutions and implementing them are abs different things. Things you say are do-able, but firstly, people should start realizing their fault. And I haven't even even spoken about the treatment given to animals in the name of "drug testing". We can go on and on, but conservation efforts are feeble and even for animals to declared "endangered", their number has to fall below a certain lower limit to stop their hunting. Well, according to me, every other species apart from human, is endangered. Man has ruled the eco-system enough, the downfall is close.

And that is saddening.

@ jiggs
Funds is a problem, but then the very idea of captivity is disturbing. Do you think if people had the money, that would reflect in animals being happy? Yes I agree they have been bred in zoos, are used to us feeding them. The situation is too complicated. I guess there should be special zoologists heired who can help animals with some routine exercises, always around medical help that is trained to handle wild species and in general mentality among people to respect fellow species.

Situation, very complicated. Thus, even more saddening.

Express said...

@ gunj
Haha, yea! and they were trying their best to seduce him, while he seemed interested in just the 1! But he was too magnificent for me to worry about the females man! way too gorgeous, yea, I used that word for a male :-P

Akshay said...

Makes me sad and mad!! There is no point of having such places....unless you have a proper infrastructure.... Delhi Zoo is no better ....endangered species are more likely to die at such places...I wonder how much of the money allocated for the animals is being used by the officials to built their own houses or buy air conditioners...

Express said...

@ akshay
Yea, corruption is another thing. Rather a crucial thing. But certain sanctuaries in our very own country are maintained so well that you feel proud to be even able to visit them. It not that people don,t know what to do. Either they don't want to do it, or they are unable to. And politicians who sit in the cabinet calling themselves "ministry of environment and forest" should be made to undergo the same treatment for them to be even eligible to talk about these things.

One post is not enough for my feelings towards this topic, more on it later.
Thanks for the comment.

metal-militant said...

Ive always notice how poorly they are treated.Thats the primary reason y they 'die mysteriously'.I mean just LOOK at how well taken care of the animals at the Singapore Zoo are.

And I wouldn't mind being that blackbuck...

Alok Meshram said...


Sigh again.
Well, what I'm saying is, there will be a time (not too far away from now) when this will become a matter of survival, and it is then that we would really do something about it. Though definitely we would have lost a lot by then.

There will be a time when people would be willing to pay money to protect animals and preserve forests.

crasiezt said...

20:1!!! That is the only thing that registered in my brain!!

Pranay said...

I feel the pain.....and as much as I try to be positive, I have to say, nothing can be done. Especally in this country where people dont respect human life expecting them to have consideration for the animals is next to impossible.
And believe me if you think this was painful, the kind of things that happen in other zoos is even worse. Public burning animals with cigarette stubbs and what not..
Having said all that, really glad that you wrote bout the pain and stuff instead of just looking at it as another 'picnic'.

Akshay said...

Express: I am sorry but u have been TAGGED!! Check out my blog!!

Express said...

@ Ishaan
Yea, a recent survey shows that half the meat that is brought to feed the carnivorous animals in our national zoos is sold off, and then they r fed dead animals, which are a source of infection and diseases for them. Imagine.

And, you don get to be the black buck. If too many humans get converted into them, tomorrow the female black bucks might start feeling sympathetic towards female humans man. Not granted.

@ alok
Haha. Yea, speculate, that is all we can do.

Oh yea, we can also feel sorry.

Express said...

@ craziest
Lol, yea...reading the post again, that IS the only thing that registers actually.

@ Pranav
Thanks for the comment
I understand what u r talking about, and the whats bad is the situation gets worse. People want to work against cruelty towards animals, and only see the scientific experimentation part of it. A lot of aspects go unseen and they are turned blind eyes towards. Worse, zoology as a subject in pure science is dying, so people do not wish to take care of the species and know about them anymore, unskilled labor aggravates the problem at hand and the gross loss increases 2 fold.

Too much to be written about it, thanks for helping me touch this aspect.

Express said...

@ akshay
What u apologizing for?
On the contrary ,thanks for tagging :P

And u r blog rolled........

Akshay said...

hey..Thanks for blog-rollin me..... I am adding you too!! when are you completing the Tag..