Last year the Indian government decided to ban the use of exotic animals for entertainment. This mainly applied to circuses that train and use animals for commercial benefit. This turned out to be on of those decisions that sound great in theory but are incredibly hard to put into practice. You see there turned out to be over a hundred lions and tigers (let alone other animals) that had to be taken from the circuses and put into some sort of an environment where they could survive. Zoos were not an option for two reasons. There are enough zoos equipped with space to handle large, individualistic animals such as lions and tigers. Also, these animals had a rough life in the circuses. They were regularly beaten, starved and generally pushed around in order to 'train' them.
So, three centers were quickly identified where these animals could be kept. Nahargarh fort just outside Jaipur is one such area. There is plenty of space for the animals to roam around freely when they want to and space for cages where they can eat peacefully. It is not a tourist spot or a zoo. Visitors are not allowed. We were accompanying a photo journalist friend who was doing a story about the center.
These animals (over 40 lions and tigers) are in a bad shape though recovering. Some had been blinded by the charged hunters used on them and some had broken bones. There is clear physical and psychological trauma. Some of these animals don't move around much just lying in a corner awaiting the peace of death. They are being constantly looked after by the rangers at the rescue center. A doctor also gave eyesight back to one of the lions.
These feral beasts have been subjected to a horrible life by an even more feral beast.
(More photos from the Nahargarh Rescue Center Album)