BANGALORE: As kitchens in households continue to reel under the effects of food inflation, the Bannerghatta National Park (BNP) near Bangalore is also feeling the pinch.
While the BNP had spent `4 crore on feeding animals and birds in 2013-14, it has earmarked `4.8 crore for the current year.
“Feeding animals has become a big problem due to rise in the cost of chicken, beef, green vegetables and fruits,” said an official.
The state government stopped giving grants to all zoos a few years ago and asked them to generate resources on their own. This had become a big burden for the authorities to manage the budget due to the steep hike in feeding expenses.
The BNP is home to 15 lions, 32 tigers, 15-20 leopards, 15 elephants, 60-80 bears and other animals and birds. The feeding expenses was met through ticket sales and adoption.
Unlike the Mysore Zoo, not many people come forward to adopt animals and birds at BNP. A BNP source said each tiger and lion eat around 15 kg of beef daily. Tenders are given once a year to supply meat.
The cost of beef that was `68 per kg has now touched the `100 mark. Besides, sometimes it is difficult to get beef and they have to buy from the open market at a higher rate. The BNP requires 1,500 kg beef every single day. The cost of feeding each elephant comes to around `1,500 daily. Chicken is given only to sick animals and not to all because of the cost factor. The bears are given a variety of fruits and vegetables daily.
“Injured tigers rescued by the Forest Department are also housed in the BNP and the burden of feeding them falls on us. We cannot deny them food just because we don’t get refund from our department. The same is the case of leopards and elephants,” he noted.
Additional Chief Secretary, Forest, Ecology and Environment, M Madan Gopal, said the state government has not received any proposal from any of the zoos seeking reimbursement of the feeding cost.
Member Secretary, Zoo Authority of Karnataka, Suresh, said the government stopped grants to all zoos as it wanted them to mobilise resources on their own. “The cost of feeding animals has gone up. We will request the government to explore possibilities of paying the feeding expenses,” he said.
Park Hardly has Any Savings: Official
While the BNP earned `18 crore in 2013-14, `4 crore was given to Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation which has invested on vehicles for safari within the national park and `4 crore on feeding animals and birds. Of the remaining `10 crore, nearly 30-40 per cent was kept for salaries and administrative expenses. There is hardly any savings. It will be good if the state government reimburses the feeding cost to zoos, said an official.