Millennium Post

Foresters to rehabilitate bisons that stray into human habitat

Darjeeling: The West Bengal Zoo Authority is all set to breathe a fresh lease of life to the South Khayerbari Tiger and Nature Centre in Dooars.

Bisons and rhinos will soon become the major tourist attraction of this park.

The foresters are planning to rehabilitate bisons that stray into human habitat in South Khayerbari along with introducing rhinos in this nature park.

The West Bengal Zoo Authority has already drawn up the project.

This project is aimed at attracting tourists as well as provide an open space for the bison and rhinos.

A detailed project report has been submitted to the Forest department and is awaiting approval. As soon as the nod is given, work will start on the infrastructure development.

"We will definitely give our approval to the project. It has immense potential in the avenue of tourism as well as help the bison that stray into the locality. The rhinos will also get a new habitat" stated Binay Krishna Barman, Forest Minister.

Khayerbai Tiger Rescue Centre and Nature Park adjacent to Jaldapara National Park came into existence in early 2000 with the objective of rehabilitating leopards that stray into human habitat.

A leopard safari had also started. In 2005 with the Supreme Court ruling against keeping tigers in circuses, 18 tigers were rehabilitated here. Khayerbari soon turned into a major tourist attraction.

However, with time the tigers began to die one after the other. The Central Zoo Authority even shut down the leopard safari owing to lack of infrastructure. At present, the centre houses 15 leopards rescued from different areas of Dooars, mainly tea gardens. Raja, the Royal Bengal Tiger who had lost his limb to a crocodile bite in Sundarban, is an inmate of Khayerbari.

"Bison and rhinos straying into the locality will not be returned to the jungle. Instead they will be rehabilitated in Khayerbari.

Tourists will get an opportunity to see bison, rhinos and leopards here" stated Binod Kumar Yadav, Member Secretary West Bengal Zoo Authority. Infrastructure will be developed to house the bison and rhinos including grasslands where the bison and rhinos can graze.

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