The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has derecognised South Delhi’s Deer Park as a ‘mini-zoo’ in the national capital of India and its deer will be shifted out, stated the officials familiar with the matter. However, the park will remain open for the public to visit.
The authorities will classify the Deer Park, which is located in New Delhi’s Hauz Khas and is officially called “AN Jha Deer Park”, as a protected forest and it will fall under the jurisdiction of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), which is a land-owning agency.
A DDA official stated that authorities decided to derecognise the park at a recent CZA meeting in the wake of overcrowding of deer in the enclosure.
On June 8, the Central Zoo Authority informed DDA about the change in the status of the park and added that deer will be transferred to the Rajasthan and Delhi forest departments in a 70:30 ratio.
The meeting was attended by CZA member secretary Sanjay Shukla, DDA principal commissioner Rajeev Kumar Tiwari, CZA’s evaluation and monitoring officer Devender Kumar and Delhi chief wildlife warden Suneesh Buxy. The technical committee of the CZA approved the proposal in its meeting held on April 19, 2023.
Park had only six deer in the 1960s
The DDA official stated that the park was set up in the 1960s with only six deer and over the decades, their population multiplied. In the last decade, the population of deer is estimated to have increased from 200 to 600.
“The issues that led to this decision include the rapid growth of population, inbreeding, possibility of spread of disease and the lack of trained manpower to maintain this mini-zoo. Now, after the order has been issued by the CZA, the Rajasthan and Delhi forest department shall take further action for the translocation of the deer. Deer park is a protected forest area and after shifting of deer, it shall be maintained that way too,” the official stated.
An official of the Delhi forest department said that an assessment is being carried out by them at the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary after which it was decided how many deer will be shifted there. “We are yet to decide what will be done with the deer. At Asola, we will assess which pockets will be suitable for the deer and how many can be accommodated there,” he added.
The park, which is spread over an area of 25.95 hectares, is also home to small animals like ducks and rabbits. For years, there have been plans to shift the deer from the park. The CZA, in March this year, tried to shift them to the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary, however, the plan was halted after the Delhi forest department emphasised that the broken boundary needs to be repaired first.