Excessive nitrate in the grass and mixed bacterial infections have killed 11 zebras at Gazipur Bangabandhu Safari Park.
The matter came up in the report of the inquiry committee formed in this regard, said Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Md Shahab Uddin in a press briefing at the Secretariat on Wednesday (23 February).
According to the report of the investigation committee, it has been decided to file a criminal case to take legal action by identifying those responsible.
He said the investigation committee had found that all the zebras died due to the effects of excess nitrate in the grass they were fed coupled with mixed bacterial infections.
Usually, urea fertilizer is applied to the grass. The animals might be affected if they are given the grass within a week or two after spraying the fertilizer.
If the grass is given after three, four or six weeks, the animal is not affected.
The minister said that all the officials involved in the zebra rearing were found to be negligent.
The report said that a thorough investigation was also needed to find out who tried to cover up the incident of the initial three deaths of zebras by slashing the stomachs of the dead zebras attempting to establish external injuries as the reason behind the deaths.
However, the minister did not give any specific number of responsible officers and employees.
He said that despite the provision that the in-charge would convene a meeting of the Safari Park Medical Board as per the direction of the on-duty veterinary officer, no emergency medical board meeting was convened even after the untimely deaths of so many zebras. This proves the negligence of the officials.
Although there is a practice of filing a GD in case of unnatural death of an animal, no GD has been filed in this case, which is mysterious.
"The secretary of the Ministry of Environment visited the safari park on 22 January. Although six zebras have died so far, the project director, the officer-in-charge, the veterinary officer or anyone else at work has not informed the secretary of the zebra's death. It appears that attempts were being made to cover up the zebra's death from the very beginning. The issue is unusual, unacceptable and not conducive to the conduct of government employees, which is tantamount to negligence", reads the report.
The investigation committee has made 24 recommendations for the development of the safari park in the report, Minister Shahab Uddin said, adding that 11 of them are short-term, 4 medium-term and 9 long-term recommendations. These will be implemented in phases.