The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the authorities to maintain status quo with respect to translocation of spotted deer from the city’s famous ‘Deer Park’ pursuant to the cancellation of its recognition as a ‘mini zoo’.
A bench headed Acting Chief Justice Manmohan asked the authorities to respond to a plea seeking a stay of the decision of the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), and suggested that at least 50 deer be retained in the park and the remaining may be sent to green areas under the control of DDA or the Ridge here.
“Rajasthan jungle has too many leopards. They will not survive there. Retain at least 50 (in the park). At least, children can go and see some deer,” the bench, also comprising Justice Mini Pushkarna, said.
“In the meantime, maintain status quo. Don’t shift them,” the court said.
The park, officially known as A N Jha Deer Park, in south Delhi’s Hauz Khas area is a popular picnic spot and a hangout zone. It comes under the jurisdiction of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA).
Officials said the decision to cancel its licence as a zoo was taken in view of rapid growth of population, inbreeding, possibility of spread of disease and lack of trained manpower to maintain it.
The lawyer representing the petitioner, New Delhi Nature Society, which has challenged CZA’s decision, Wednesday submitted that the authorities had earlier said the issue of translocation of spotted deer had been referred to the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun and 80 spotted deer in batches of 40 have been moved to other places so far.
He claimed no reason was provided for revocation of the park’s licence and the exercise of shifting the animals was done in contravention of applicable guidelines that protect old, newborn and their young mothers and pregnant deer from translocation.
The CZA issued the order cancelling the Deer Park’s recognition as a mini zoo’ on June 8.
According to officials, six deer were introduced in the park in the 1960s and, over time, the number swelled to approximately 600. After cancellation of its licence, forest departments of Rajasthan and Delhi shall take further action for their translocation, they said.
The matter would be heard next in January.