The Bengal forest department has decided to open eight aviaries at the South Khayerbari Nature Park in Alipurduar district to boost tourism.
The nature park, inaugurated in 2005, lost its lustre after the leopard safari – the first of the kind in north Bengal -stopped seven years ago as the battery-run vehicles which were used to carry tourists to the enclosure went out of operation.
A forest officer said even though the safari had stopped, at least 200 people visit the site during the tourism season. “At present, there are seven leopards and one royal Bengal tiger at the nature park. Also, four cottages and boating facility are available,” he said.
State forest minister Binoy Krishna Burman said: “We have planned to reintroduction the leopard safari at the South Khayerbari Nature Park in a large enclosure. For the safari, we have sought permission from the Central Zoo Authority. Meanwhile, to bring in tourists, we have planned to open up aviaries which will house several species of birds. In total, eight aviaries would be opened in the park but initially, there is a plan to open two aviaries.”
The proposed leopard safari, Burman said, will come up on 20 hectares and the site has already been identified for the project. “We have taken up works like construction of a boundary wall of the existing leopard rescue centre. Once the approval from the zoo authority reaches to us, work of the enclosure and the safari will also begin,” the forest minister added.
The department has planned to keep 12 leopards at the enclosure and a car will be put into service to take visitors inside the enclosure to watch the animals from a close distance, Burman informed.
As of now, leopard and tiger safari and aviaries are available at the Bengal Safari Park near Siliguri.
Biplab Dey, the joint secretary of Dooars Tourism Development Forum, has welcomed the move. “It is good that the forest department has planned to resume the leopard safari and will launch aviaries in the park. Once initiated, these steps would surely attract more people to the Khayerbari.”
The South Khayerbari Nature Park, located on the fringes of Jaldapara National Park, is around 42km from Alipurduar.
Source: The Telegraph