Three lions at the SGNP are up for adoption. REPRESENTATIONAL PIC
After RPI (A) chief Ramdas Athawale recently adopted a leopard that was in SGNP captivity, the forest department is trying to give a boost to its adoption scheme started in 2014, which has so far remained largely unsuccessful. Officials believe that more people need to come forward and adopt the wild animals.
With only 12 of the total 90 animals adopted, calling Mumbaikars' response to the scheme as lukewarm would be an understatement.
An official from Sanjay Gandhi National Park said, "We expected the animal adoption programme to receive a really good response from city's wildlife lovers, but sadly, that hasn't been the case. We still hope though that in the future people come forward to adopt the spotted deer, nilgai, leopard, lions and tigers among other animals."
The only adoption of this year so far has been by Athawale, who is expected to visit the SGNP Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre of Leopards today along with his family members.
In 2014, when the scheme was started, nine animals were adopted - a tiger by Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray, two rusty spotted cats by his younger brother Tejas, a wildlife photographer, a lion by MLA Kshitij Thakur's relative Siddharth, a leopard by Thane resident Sadhana Vaze, a spotted deer and a barking deer by a private company, and two spotted deer by a private school.
In 2015, Neelam Shah adopted a spotted deer, and Ghatkopar resident Pritesh Sanghvi adopted a barking deer, while the Thackeray brothers renewed their adoption of the tiger and one rusty spotted cat. Vaze, too, renewed the adoption of the leopard. In 2016, a Parel-based private company adopted a lion, and Vaze renewed the leopard's adoption.
Forest department sources said the adoption contract of animals taken on by the Thackeray family ended in July 2016, and they are planning to renew it soon.
There are a total of 90 animals that have been put up for adoption - seven tigers, three lions, six rusty spotted cats, 14 leopards, 42 spotted deer, 16 four-horned antelopes and two nilgais.