They will henceforth receive not just a tearful but a dignified final farewell as well. A brand new crematorium has been set up at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) by forest officials — to make sure every animal that lives and dies here is cremated honourably. Earlier, all dead animals were cremated at one corner of the park or buried somewhere close by.
The last resting place: The new crematorium at SGNP is spread over 150 sq feet, with a shed where the firewood would be stored. Pic/Ranjeet Jadhav
However, taking a note of the emotions attached — many of the animals that are born in captivity or spend their entire lives at the SGNP — forest officials figured giving them a proper send-off was the least they could do.
The new crematorium at SGNP is spread over 150 square feet, with a shed to store firewood. Chief Conservator of the Forest (CCF) and SGNP Director Vikas Gupta said, “Earlier the cremations were done near the Leopard Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre but now a proper platform has been constructed with a shed on the top.”
A life-long bond
The decision was in part taken after consulting several zoo-keepers and officials who have a strong emotional attachment with many animals, having seen them grow in captivity. These officials also opined that as a mark of respect to the animals, a proper crematorium similar to that for humans should be constructed. A forest department worker looking after the big cats (the leopards, tigers and lions) in captivity said, “I have been looking after these animals for more than 10 years and an emotional bond has developed between us. We call the animals by their names and they respond. These animals are more like our family members.”
No tree felling
Forest officials also clarified that no tree from the SGNP will be cut to procure firewood to cremate the animals. “There are many trees which die and fall naturally and the wood from these trees will be used instead,” the official said.