Master Plan

Preface :

Wildlife Management in India is integral to mainstream forest management, yet as a resource needing scientific management. It was a late entrant on the professional scene. We started considering Zoological Parks as part of wildlife management and / or as center of ex-situ conservation breeding for endangered animal species only very recently. It is only with the creation of Central Zoo Authority in early nineties and formulation of National Zoo Policy of 1998, we started taking Zoological Parks more seriously as part of wildlife management. Most aspects of modern life function according to pre-arranged and accepted plans, objectives, rules and schedules. Zoological Parks should be no exception. A good Management Plan is a pre-requisite for good management. While the forest Working Plans in India have a history of more than 130 years, the first Wildlife Management Plan in the year 1970 was just about a 100 years younger. The Zoological Parks in India are still bogged down with Master Plans with stress more on display, architecture, themes etc., than on conservation breeding. Hardly any Zoo in India is having a Management Plan prepared by a management planning process, which set out Conservation, Education and Research as objectives of management. Lack of Master / Management Plans resulted in haphazard growth of animal enclosures and other infra-structure in most of Indian Zoos. The Indian Zoos Managements are still not very clear about their objectives, in spite of clearly defined National Zoo Policy. With this backdrop I started working on the idea of preparing of a Master (layout) Plan and comprehensive Management Plan for its implementation for the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park. The Zoological Park came into existence in 1958, but it was more to get the project sanctioned. So, for all practical purposes, it is to be treated as First Master (layout) and Management Plan of the Zoological Park. This document might fall in the 'bulky' category, yet it render for use in two versions. The brief and the comprehensive. For brief reference, reading the Executive Summary may be sufficient. My greatfullness are due to all member of the Governing Body of the Zoological Park (Society) for guiding during the preparation of the document. Their valuable suggestions have been duly incorporated. The colleagues at the Zoological Park made a rich contribution of their ideas and experiences.

Dr. B. R. Sharma, IFS

Ex - Director, Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, Darjeeling

The Executive Summary :

The Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, Darjeeling formerly known as Himalayan Zoological Park, Darjeeling was established on 14th August 1958. The Zoological Park is located at an altitude of 7000 ft (2150 mts.) in Jawahar Parbat (Birchill) on the Northern fringe of Darjeeling Town. In 1975 late Smt. Indira Gandhi the then Prime Minister of India dedicated the Himalayan Zoological Park in memory of late Smt. Padmaja Naidu, Ex-Governor of West Bengal and the Park was renamed as Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park. Hill town of Darjeeling is about 85 k.m. from the nearest airport (Bagdogra) and is the same distance from the main railway junction (NJP). The land on which Zoological Park is standing was acquired by the British Govt. in the late 19th century and developed as a Public Park known as Birchill Park. After independence, the Govt. of India and the Govt. of West Bengal decided to develop the Birch hill Park as Zoological Park for Conservation of Eastern Himalaya ecosystem. The Zoological Park at 7000 ft. is eminently suitable for housing and breeding of the animals, from foothills to the alpine zone, as this is the optimal altitudinal zone for the purpose.

The Zoological Park is situated in the lower Himalayas in 27'3'North and 88'18'E, at the confluence of Ethiopian, Palaearctic, Mediterranean and Indo Malayan flora and fauna. Of the total 78.5 acres with the Zoological Park, 67.56 acres is presently under the Zoological Park Management. The surrounding areas is not very thickly populated. During summers temperature rises upto 25'C where as lowest recorded temperature during winter is sub zero. The mean annual rainfall fluctuates from 2500 mm to 3000 mm. The humidity varies from 80 % in Winters and 90 % in Summers. Wind and frost is common, whereas the snowfall is more of an exception than a regular features in Darjeeling. The Park is composed of the natural woods that originally existed in the area which corresponds to Champion's type 11B/CI (Northern Montane / East Himalayan wet temperate Forest). The Park Forest consisted of a variety of eastern Himalayan fauna, some of these can still be seen in the Estate.

For the Management convenience the organization of the Zoological Park has been divided into different wings and sections. Director's Personal section is responsible for control and coordination of different wings and sections. The Administration Section with 2 sub-sections namely - Account section and Establishment Sections are responsible for accounting and general administration. The Animal Section has been further divided into 6 number beats including Conservation Breeding Centre (CBC) for working convenience. The Veterinary Section has all required facilities and is housed in the ground floor of hospital building. The Zoological Park has fully equipped Commissary Section, well organized Sanitation Section, and well trained gardeners to maintain the Garden Section. For education / extension activities and organizing field research the Education Section and Research Section are of recent addition. The Estate Section is responsible for estate security and maintenance. Details of the Water supply system, Power supply system, Road / Footpath network, residential and non-residential buildings, visitors amenities and mobility etc. are also discussed in the Part I (Summary of Facts) of the Management Plan.

The Part II of the Management Plan deals with the proposed management. Role of Zoos, preparation of Management Plans, Plan Objectives, mission statement, theme, etc. are discussed in the beginning of the proposed Management Plan.

The future action plan has been discussed in detail. The Zoological Park will continue to have the existing organization. The Director's Personal Section will look after the control and co-ordination of the different wings and sections of the Zoological Park. The Section will also look after the Computer Network, Telephone network, Auditorium, Guest House, Visitor's Room, etc. The Administration Section housed on top floor of the Administration Building will continue to administer its assigned jobs. Though, there will be no change in the organization of the Animal Section, modifications and improvements have been proposed in the existing animal enclosures. Disinfection schedule has also been prescribed. Some suggestions have been for up gradation of existing Veterinary facilities. Proposals have also been given for stream lining of the functioning of the Commissary Section, Sanitation Section and Garden Section. Complete new look has been given to the Education and Research activities. The Zoo security and maintenance have been clubbed together under Estate Section for round the clock, security and proper maintenance of the infrastructure Water supply network, Power supply network, Road / Footpath network, Staff accommodation, Visitors amenities and mobility, etc. have been given special attention and complete over hauling have been proposed.

Three main objectives of the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park i.e. ex-situ Conservation Breeding, Conservation Education and Research have been dealt in details.

Zoological Parks have to play a major role in ex-situ Conservation breeding of targeted animal species for their ultimate release in their wild habitats. The collection plan of the animals to be kept and bred in the Zoological Park has been finalized. Only those animal species (all from Eastern Himalaya) comfortable at Darjeeling have been identified for the collection plan. Being the only established high altitude Zoo in the whole of South East Asia, acquisition of animals of the desired species is a big handicap at PNHZ Park. So co-operative population management and co-ordination at regional and global levels are the only mode to fulfill the objectives of the Zoological Park. Acquisition from the wild is another possibility. Re-introduction / Re-stocking of Zoo bred animals after successful planned breeding has been proposed as the primary objectives of the Zoological Park.

Conservation Education is just as important, Himalayan Nature Interpretation Centre, Display boards / Signage, Zoo literature, are the extension activities required in a Zoo. Nature trail will be developed through the Zoo forest. Auditorium facilities can be better used for extension activities. Visitors facilities are required to be developed in the Zoo premise.

Research is very important. Every bit of observation in the field with scientific analysis will become Research. The Research Laboratory will be developed further. Basic information related to the zoo management will be recorded in prescribed formats and will be up dated on regular basis. Animal health care and diseases, Animal food and feeding habits, behavioral studies, breeding biology and Zoo architecture / enclosure designing are the fields to concentrate on. Data storage system and processing can be improved by acquiring latest software for the purpose. Meteorological data collection will be another priority at the Zoological Park.

The Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park Society and Governing Body have been re-organized very recently. The Park is presently under the administrative control of the Department of Forests, Govt. of West Bengal. A ten number Governing Body, headed by the Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal is the main controlling body of the Park. The establishment of the Park is 58 no. strong. The whole establishment is divided into essential and non - essential services depending of the job chart, responsibilities, etc. Training schedule, equipments, uniform and awards etc are also discussed under the Plan.

The budget has been divided into two parts. The maintenance budget includes salaries, animal diet and maintenance of zoo infrastructure. Plan budget with schedule of operation for the plan period has also been proposed.

Miscellaneous regulation like Central Zoo Authority's guidelines, Park regulations, gates / barriers, communication, fire protection etc. are also stressed upon.

The last but not the least important is the Contingency Plan and Disaster Management. Emergency preparedness to deal with disasters has been formulated.