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Any move to move wild animals to a zoo would harm biodiversity, the court said.Mumbai: Taking suo motu (on its own) cognizance of the Maharashtra government’s move to shift wild animals from a forest in Gadchiroli district to a zoo, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court on Wednesday said a balance has to be struck between the rights of human beings and animals. A division bench of Justices S B Shukre and Valmiki SA Menezes took cognizance of news reports about a proposed plan of the state forest department to transfer some wild animals to a zoo.The court issued notices to the Centre and the Maharashtra government and sought their responses and posted the matter for further hearing on Thursday.”We are of the view that this issue raises even more a fundamental issue regarding rights of wild animals within the society dominated by human beings in general and within the framework of the Constitution of India in particular,” the High Court said in its order.The bench maintained animals are not bestowed with mental faculties similar to a human being and hence it is difficult for a human society to seek consent of the affected animals before they are forcibly removed from one area to another.”But that should not deter a human being from devising some method where rights of the wild animals against their forcible removal and in respect of other matters are equally respected as that of man and a balance is struck between the rights of man and rights of animals, including wild animals. If this could be done, much of the problems arising from man-animal conflict will be redressed,” the judges noted.The court added that ancient Hindu texts have recognized the rights of animals, birds and every living creature and regarded every living being as having emerged from the same divine power as humans, thereby deserving due respect, love and affection.The bench referred to a couplet from of an ‘abhang’ (devotional poetry) written by Sant Tukaram to buttress its point.The court noted the issue also raises concerns over biodiversity. Any move to move wild animals to a zoo would harm biodiversity and would be against the spirit of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002, it said.”Presence of wild elephants adds to biodiversity of Gadchiroli forest and, therefore, it is the duty of the state to do everything to preserve the population of wild elephants in Gadchiroli,” it said.The forest department had recently shifted three elephants from Patanil under the Allapalli forest division of Gadchiroli district in eastern Maharashtra to an elephant welfare trust in Jamnagar in Gujarat. The department is planning to shift 13 elephants from Maharashtra to adjoining Gujarat. Accordingly, six elephants from Tadoba (in Chandrapur district) have already been transferred and three from Patanil were moved last week.The forest department is planning to shift four more elephants from a camp in Kamalapur in Gadchiroli to the adjoining state amid protests from local residents and public representatives.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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