Bhagwan Birsa Biological Park, also known as Birsa Munda Jaivik Udyan Ranchi has been named after the famous freedom fighter of Jharkhand, Birsa Munda. Considered to be one of the most beautiful zoos set amidst the most natural settings, the zoo has thick canopy of lush green forests. Proven to be the most natural habitat for a variety of rich wild life that thrives here, the zoo has been drawing large number of tourists from all over the world.
Located amidst the most natural settings that aid and help the animals in retaining their normal behavior. Unlike most zoos, it has over 104 hectares of mildly uneven land with natural dry deciduous forest. These forests surround the natural water bodies that add to the natural topography of the forest. Thus wild animals in the zoo live in harmony with the nature and thrive in it.
The zoo is located on National Highway 33, in the Ranchi-Ramgarh section, about 16 kms from the centre of Ranchi. The National Highway divides the zoological park in two unequal halves. With the smaller half catering to the botanical section and the larger one dedicated to the zoological section. The zoo was thrown open to the public on 26th January, 1994 and every year more than two and half lakh visitors throng to see it. Most of the inmates of this Biological Park live in open areas surrounded by moats, giving them a feel of being in their natural habitat.
The Botanical Section of the Park is yet to be developed due to various reasons. But the zoo has plans to construct an aquarium, a huge butterfly park, and a water park on two hectares of zoo land, which will have two water tanks, cascading water channels, landscaping, musical fountains etc. While the aquarium will be constructed in a 9,000 square feet building, plans to introduce the toy train in a three-kilometre stretch having three compartments with an electric engine is envisaged on the zoological side.
A central ring road that touches every part of the park runs within it. On the South-eastern side of the park, beyond the boundary, lies a large water storage body called the Getalsud dam that supplies water to the whole of Ranchi city. There is also a local seasonal river called Sapahi surrounding the park to its west, south west, south and south eastern sides.
The land on which the Biological Park has been established is a protected forest belonging to the Government of Jharkhand.
The objectives of the Biological Park is to conserve the endangered and fast disappearing flora and fauna; developing a feeling of empathy towards wild animals that are on the endangered list, and in motivating and educating the public to support the cause of wildlife conservation. As a part of its unique program the forest department has hit upon the unique concept of giving the wild animals for adoption. This was started to improve the public awareness on the importance of wild life protection and conservation. Famous personalities are also lending their support to the program by adopting the animals. This has piqued the interests of the visitors to the zoo who have come forward to donate or help in the maintenance of the zoo.
The best time to visit the Park is during the winter months of October to February. During the monsoon season, from July to September, the area receives heavy rainfall season and the whole place gets inundated with water. It is generally not advised to venture into the Park during this period. The area receives an annual average rainfall of 1413.60 mm.
The Animal Enclosure in the Zoological Section:
The zoo animals are provided specially designed enclosures to make their lives in captive as comfortable as possible. The zoo authorities have ensured that the enclosures are designed in such a manner so as to provide better visibility to visitors without disturbing the privacy of the animals within them. The enclosures of the zoo have been carefully designed keeping these two broad aims in mind.
Given below are the main enclosures of the Biological Park:
The Monkey Enclosure:
This enclosure houses the endangered monkey species called Rhesus Macaques. The enclosure has four retiring cells, a wet moat along its periphery. In the open courtyard of the outer enclosure, there are lot of works displayed on rocks and an artificial tree.
The Gharial and Crocodile Enclosures:
The enclosure to the crocodiles and gharials has a wet moat in the centre with sufficient dry space around the moat, providing ample space for the reptiles to bask in the sun.
Barking Deer Enclosure:
The enclosure to both the species has two parts. One section of the enclosure houses the barking deer and the other has blackbucks in them. Provision to house the blackbucks in a different enclosure is on the cards.
The enclosure for the barking deer contains four cells, a lot of trees and other vegetation to help bring about a natural environment to the animals. The enclosure is encircled by a dry moat on all the sides excluding the cells.
The snake enclosure has special arrangements to regulate the temperature and humidity in it. The enclosure has 15 cells of different dimensions that can house 50 different snake species. For viewers to view the inmates of this enclosure, the front side of each enclosure has a glass wall.
Chital (Axis axis) the Deer Enclosure:
The chital enclosure is an open one with feeding platforms, water troughs, temporary sheds and trees to provide shelter to the animals. The enclosure has barbed wire fence enabling visitors to have a full view of the chital inside them. Recent reports say that the zoo has 39 of these doe-eyed animals.
The zoo has separate enclosures for black buck that are now 17 in number.
Nilgai or Antelope Enclosure:
The Nilgai or Antelope (Boselaphus tragocamelus) enclosure is surrounded by a dry moat and four cells within it. The enclosure has many sal trees within making the place look thickly wooded. Feeding platforms and water troughs have been provided for the animals to feed and drink.
Sambar (Cervus unicolor) Enclosure:
Similar to the antelope and chital enclosure, the sambar enclosure is again an open one having feeding platforms, water trough and kraal or manure facilities. The enclosure has a dry moat to two sides and a chain link mesh fence on the other two.
The forest authorities and the Government of Jharkhand are planting trees within the enclosure to provide protection to the animals from heat and cold.
The elephant enclosure has a dry moat on two sides, three philkhanas or feeding troughs and two bath tanks. The moat has a small bridge that enables elephants to cross over and stroll across the enclosure every day.
The wolf enclosure in the zoo is bounded by a dry moat, with the outer enclosure carefully hidden by thick bushes, sal and shrubs. Hyenas have been placed in the enclosure as there are no wolves in it.
The hyena enclosure in turn has two dens and a moat encircling one part while the other side has thick woods with bushy thorny shrubs and thick trees keeping the enclosure covered from the outside world.
The lion enclosure has two divisions in it- One inner and the other outer. The inner enclosure is enclosed by a dry moat to one side and a chain link mesh on the other three sides. The enclosure has four cells, a cage, two dens and two nurseries. But the outer enclosure compared to the outer one is grassy and well maintained. The enclosure has only hybrid lions at the moment. The forest department is in the process of acquiring some good stock lions to increase the population of lions in the zoo.
The tiger enclosure in the Birsa Munda Zoo has two Royal Bengal tigers remaining. A male tiger named Sugreev and a female tigress Durga. The zoo authorities have taken extra precaution and care to ensure that the tigers are secure and have all the amenities to survive healthily.
The tiger division in the zoo has two enclosures one next to the other. Each of the enclosure is bounded by a dry moat to one side, a chain link mesh to the remaining three sides. The concrete structure in each enclosure has four retiring cells, a squeeze cage, two dens and two nurseries. The outer enclosure to the inner one conceals the animals with dense vegetation of bushes, trees and grass. The zoo authorities have taken extra care to keep a check on the tigers by constant monitoring and regular health checkups on the animals.
This houses Bisons (Gaurs). The bison enclosure is bounded on all the four sides with a stone wall. The enclosure has a feeding platform, a water trough and a water lax. There are many trees, bushes, shrubs and tall grass within the enclosure that makes the enclosure more natural and habitable for the magnificent gaurs.
The zoo also has six different varieties of aviaries in varying orders. Recent additions to the aviary include ones having the walk around the aviary, an emu enclosure and a swan enclosure.
Besides these there are other attractions that the zoo has that attracts many tourists.
The zoo has a Rose Garden with many different species of roses in a wide variety of colors. The gardens too are well laid out enabling visitors to take a stroll admiring the beauty and fragrance of these blooms.
There is also a well maintained childrens park within the zoo park catering to the playing needs of the children.
Just as in other zoos, the Birsa Munda botanical zoo also boasts of an artificial lake with boating facilities provided for the tourists. It is a great hit with the visitors to the zoo.
The zoo also boasts of other wild species like foxes, jackals, wild cats, reptiles, lizards (of many varieties), snakes and many ground-nesting birds (ground nesting birds are those species of birds that do not build nests but lay their eggs on the ground or rocky ledges. Some birds known as brood parasites , take advantage by placing their eggs in the nests of other birds and letting them do the work of rearing the young). The zoo has arboreal birds (birds that live in lightly woody areas on top of tall trees like the eucalyptus or sal trees).
The Health and Research facilities in the Zoo:
The park has the distinction of engaging in special captive breeding programmes that helps in increasing the population of endangered species like the flying squirrel and the chowsinga (the four horned antelopes). This distinction on the zoo has been bestowed by the Central Zoo Authority taking into consideration the zoo’s performance and other aspects in various other fields of research.
The zoo is fully equipped to look after the health of the animals in it. An experienced veterinarian ably assisted by a compounder and other well trained staff monitors the health of the animals regularly. They monitor the health of the animals; suggest/take preventive or curative measures to ensure that the animals within the enclosure are healthy. The Ranchi Veterinary College also extends all help to the zoo doctor in case of any emergency or when needed. The zoo authorities and forest staff ensure that zoos co-operate with one another.
In order to ensure that the animals especially the endangered species in the zoo are well protected and taken care of during emergencies, the zoo has planned infrastructure in place for the same.
Necessary equipment needed to treat the animals; tools and machines are available in the hospital
A well-equipped operation theatre with all the modern facilities
Wards and cabins earmarked for isolation to facilitate treatment and immediate attendance to the sick/injured animals in captivity
Orphaned animals are specially taken care of to facilitate faster adjustment to the zoo environment
A specially designated ward that is used to quarantine animals affected by sickness or to house the rescued and newly acquired animals
These quarantined wards have small and big cells to accommodate smaller or larger animals. The quarantined wards also have nurseries that look after the smaller animals
Post mortem rooms to scientifically deduce the death of the animal
The Zoo is well equipped with an incinerator that burns the dead carcasses of the animals in it
Ban on usage of plastic articles.
The Birsa Munda Zoological Park has adopted eco-friendly principles within the zoo. Aware of the consequences that plastics and other non-degradable substances place on the environment which in turn affects plant and animal life, the park has some strict resolutions in place.
The Park has totally banned the usage of plastic covers/bags inside the zoo
Strict checking, screening within the premises and while entering the premises are carried out
Sufficient number of warnings is placed everywhere within and outside the zoo compound
The roads leading to the zoo too have strategically painted notice boards educating visitors of the hazards in the usage of plastic
Visitors are not allowed into the premises of the zoo if they do not comply
Anyone caught with plastics within enclosures are levied fines and possibly a jail term depending on the nature of the offence
The Birsa Munda zoo has taken great care to cater to the food requirements of all the animals in a very systematic manner. Different types of diets are prepared in the kitchen to cater to the needs of different kinds of animals.
Preparation of such food merits utmost diligence and care. The staffs in the zoo kitchen are employed basing upon their experience. Thus, the staffs are required to be patient, vigilant and sensitive to the needs of the animals.
Feeds are prepared on a daily basis depending on the instructions given by the higher officer’s in-charge of the welfare of the animals, the veterinarian and cook. Lot of importance is laid on the quality and quantity of the feed before it is taken to stock. A wholesome diet in the required quantities is provided to the zoo inmates with great care and consideration.
Such careful measure adopted by the zoo authorities in ensuring an increase in the life span of the animals has reaped results. Royal Bengal Tigers one of the most endangered species in the country, whose numbers have dwindled pathetically have seen a new surge of life in the zoo.
Due importance is given to the quality and quantity of the feed article supplied to the zoo. Every feed article supplied to the zoo is properly checked for its quality and quantity by the staff before it is taken to the stock.
Providing wholesome diet in required quantity to the zoo inmates is one of the two highest priority considerations adopted by the zoo administration, the other being the animals health care.
Though much care has been provided to the tigers a rise in the mortality figures has put the zoo authorities in a quandary. They have decided to introduce two tigers into Birsa from the Itanagar zoo in Arunachal Pradesh. The tigers a male and a female are in good health and the zoo authorities are hopeful that they would contribute to increasing the population of tigers in the zoo.
Facilities to the visitors to the zoo:
As the zoo benefits from the revenue paid by the visitors entering it, it also provides ample amenities to ensure that the visitors are comfortable during their visit to the zoo. It is of utmost importance that the visitors understand the importance of maintaining cleanliness and hygiene within the zoo and follow the guidelines given.
Toilets, clean, cool drinking water and rest areas are provided at various points within the zoo
Parking areas are provided for a nominal fee
First aid and canteen facilities are available near the main gate. Visitors can make use of those before entering the zoo
Anti venom medicine is also stocked to treat visitors of snake bites
Wheel-chairs are available for the physically challenged visitors
Kiosks by the side of the artificial lake too dole out refreshments for a nominal price. Visitors can enjoy the scenic beauty of the lake within the natural surroundings of the zoo and relax
For those who find it difficult to walk long distances the zoo has provided electric vehicles that are emission free, to tour the major routes in the zoo
Advance bookings need to be made at the ticketing counter to avail the electric vehicle
At the entrance to the enclosures, well-researched, well-informative write-ups have been provided that contain a lot of useful information about the animals within it
The write-ups are in local language as well as English
Wash or drinking water facilities
Rest areas, comfortable sit outs and sheds at every convenient location
Emergency facilities like first aid have been provided at every convenient location
Sign boards and pointers to facilitate easy movement
A well equipped Information centre
Huge guide maps providing adequate information about the enclosures and the layout of the zoo