Mathura, 2018.12.29 (VT): The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) of India has declared Churmura’s Elephant Conservation and Care Centre illegal. The sanctuary is run by the NGO Wildlife SOS which was established in 1998 with the primary objective of rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife in distress across India.
Alleging illegal captivity of animals, the CZA has issued notices to the conservation centre and the forest department. It has also asked the Chief Conservator of Forests of UP to investigate the matter and take necessary action.
D.N. Singh, Member Secretary–CZA, said that no individual or organisation can establish a zoo without registration. However, Wildlife SOS has been running the elephant sanctuary in Mathura’s Churmura village since 2010. It also collects funds for the upkeep of elephants.
Environmentalist Gauri Mulekhi and Haryana’s wildlife scout and guide, Commissioner Naresh Kadyan registered complaints against the NGO citing evidence of irregularities in/violation of FCRA (Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act) – 2010.
According to Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder & CEO of Wildlife SOS, the conservation centre in Mathura is also India’s first ‘elephant hospital’, and hence, issuing a notice in this regard is beyond the scope of CZA.
Defending his stance, he said that the conservation centre doesn’t fall under Section 38 (H) of Wildlife Conservation Act 1972, as the act pertains to zoos. He also added that there is no provision for registration of the 40 conservation centres being run by the NGO in India.