Lucknow is set to lose its lungs, children their haven and animal lovers their favourite spot.
The over 100-year-old Lucknow Zoo will soon move to a new location outside the state capital.
The shifting of Lucknow Zoo to the Kukrail forest area will begin early next year.
The forest department has set a deadline to complete the Kukrail zoo and night safari project by the end of 2023.
UP minister for environment, forest and climate change (independent charge) Arun Kumar Saxena said, “The department had decided to celebrate the foundation day of the Lucknow Zoo on November 29, 2023 at Kukrail zoo and night safari park. The digital survey of the location has been done. By February end, the camp structure and warroom for the project will be constructed and every meeting related to the project will be held there then.”
In August this year, the state cabinet had approved the proposal for a night safari park in Kukrail forest.
The new zoo promises to be bigger and better with added attractions.
As per the proposal, the 2027 hectares forest area in Kukrail will have both a zoo and night safari park. The night safari will be set up in a bigger area than the zoo. The project will not disturb the dense area of the forest but use the maximum open space within it, which is not under any other use, for the purpose.
The state government is also planning to develop a four-lane approach road on the outskirts of the forest to improve connectivity besides creating world class facilities for visitors.
The project will promote ecotourism in the state. It will also generate employment locally and promote cultural, economic and social development in the nearby regions. Besides, it will boost wildlife conservation and increase awareness about wildlife and forest.
Now that the state government has decided to shift the iconic Lucknow Zoo 10 km away to the Kukrail forest area, environmentalists and nature lovers have started seeking clarity about the fate of more than 5,000 trees of over 100 species at Nawab Wajid Ali Shah Zoological Garden, the official name of the Lucknow Zoo.
The garden, a 29-hectare green cover located at the heart of the city, is managed by the Prince Wales Zoological Garden Trust run by Lucknow Advisory Committee (LAC) with the Forest Secretary to the GoUP as chairman. The zoo comes under the Central Zoo Authority (CZA).
The officials said it was too early to discuss any plan for the garden. “Authorities are yet to come up with any decision concerning the shifting of the garden. Though there are technologies nowadays wherein entire trees can be moved, it will not be an easy job. Moreover, Kukrail already has a healthy green cover,” said a forest official.
However, the National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI), Lucknow chief scientist, warned that tree relocation seldom guarantees success.
“Firstly, relocating trees is a massive task. Furthermore, it does not always guarantee success. In many cases, the uprooted trees die,” the official said.
The zoo range officer said, “As far as the zoo is concerned, we will be following the direction of CZA and it’s for the government and LAC to decide the fate of trees and other plants in the garden.”
The garden is even older than the zoo, having been established as a mango orchard in the 18th century by Nawab Nasiruddin Haider, the then Nawab of Awadh. It was known as Banarasi Bagh at the time. It is home to some of the rare trees, including Parijaat and Banyan, etc. The Parijaat tree is believed to be 100 years old.
Over 100 species of mammals, birds, and reptiles, will be shifted to their new home in Kukrail, which will be at least double the size of their present home (zoo).
This is for the first time an entire zoo is being relocated in Uttar Pradesh.
“The entire shifting process will start with a proposal to the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) which okays shifting of animals or even exchange of animals between two zoos in India, before anything else is done,” said V.K. Mishra, the zoo director.
The present campus at Hazratganj is spread across 29 hectares and the new campus will be over 60 hectares or 150 acres.
The zoo was established in 1921 and till 1950 it ran under various trusts and bodies before coming under an advisory committee of the Public Health Department and director, Medicine and Health being made its administrator.
In 1966, its administrative control was given to the Forest Department.
Enclosures, not only for the animals that are presently living on the zoo campus but additional enclosures for those animals in the plan to be brought in the future, will also be built before these animals are actually transported.
Apart from the forest officials who will plan and decide on the shifting of animals from the present zoo to new one, outside experts, experienced in shifting animals, may also be engaged for the job.
The zoo initially named as Prince of Wales Zoological Gardens Trust was renamed as Nawab Wajid Ali Shah Zoological Garden in 2015.