By:Staff WriterColombo (LNW): Fears of revenue loss have led Sri Lanka’s key zoological gardens to consider selling and releasing animals to downsize animal population to a manageable level, a top Zoological Department official said, amid the island nation’s worsening economic conditions.
“There are excess population of certain animals in the zoos including deers. And we are discussing with the Wildlife Department to see the possibilities to see whether we can release some of those animals back to the wild. In that way we can reduce some of the expense,” the official said.
“And also there are some domestic animals such as rabbits and birds. If there are excessive population in those animals, we will take actions to sell them. through this, we can reduce the number of animals and cost.”
Sri Lanka has around 5,000 animals under three zoological gardens in Dehiwala, Pinnawala, and Safari Park in Hambanthota.
The official said precautions are being taken to increase the income of the zoological gardens and reduce the costs at the moment including cultivating short term crops to add to the feed supply and purchasing plant based feed from third parties have also been considered.
The daily feed cost of Sri Lanka’s all zoological gardens is around 250,000 rupees.The official said other innovative options are also being considered to prevent the starvations at zoo.
“The Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) has slammed the officials of Department of National Zoological Gardens for spending ‘outrageously high’ amounts of money to purchase certain species of birds.
During its recent meeting, the COPA revealed that between 2018 and 2020, the Zoological Gardens Department had purchased some species of birds for approximately Rs. 1.5 million despite the estimated amount being Rs. 50,000.
The difference between the estimated amount and the purchased amount was thus disclosed to be 3,000%, which the COPA deemed ‘problematic’.
In this procurement, due to the condition that the supplier should provide 32 types of birds, the COPA drew its attention to the loss of nearly Rs. 17 million as the birds had to be purchased at exorbitant rates.
The Committee emphasized the need for an urgent amendment to the Act as matters including the incorporation of the new zoological parks in to the Act.
COPA Chair directed to complete the work within the next month post coordination with the Compilation Department and submit a report on this before August 5th, 2023.
The need for proper classification of the income of the Zoological Department was pointed out at the Committee meeting held. Accordingly, the Auditor General instructed that the income from tickets and other activities should be presented separately.
As it is observed that there is no proper program for the conservation of endangered animals, the Committee Chair informed that the Ministry of Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation, the Ministry of Environment, the Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Department of National Zoological Gardens should jointly appoint a committee and prepare a program.
The need to regularly update the information on endangered animals in the country as per the IUCN Red Data Book was also pointed out. Accordingly, it was emphasized that a comprehensive national survey should be conducted in this regard.