Locked out

as the world begins celebrating the Wildlife Week on October 1, wild animals at the Pune-based Uttaraj Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre (uarrc), many of them injured, would lose their shelter on that day. The centre, located within the Katraj Snake Park, is one of the largest in India. Its closure is being forced by a fund crunch.

"There are no funds and I am not in a position to run the shelter,' rues Neelam Kumar Khaire, uarrc director. Khaire would hand over the keys of the centre to the forest department. The main reason behind the crisis is the stoppage of funds by Chennai-based Animal Welfare Board (awb), under the Union ministry of environment and forests. awb's grant, meant for laboratory animals sent to uarrc from the National Institute of Virology (niv), Pune, was enough to run the whole centre. But the awb has stopped funding for more than a year, Khaire complains. When contacted, awb secretary K Babu said he was "not aware about the closure of the rescue centre'.

uarrc's closure might also lead to a spread of deadly viruses like the hiv. Many of the animals to be rendered homeless were used in research at niv and could be infected, Khaire warns. The uarrc rescues over 900 wild animals and birds and releases them in their natural environs every year.