How and why 10 deer were transported from city to KMTR

The deer being released at Mundanthurai.

Chennai: After around 40 days of being in quarantine and closely monitored by officials and doctors, 10 spotted deer were carefully guided to climb a ramp which led them into the specially designed truck. Then they undertook a 22-hour journey from Chennai to Kalakaadu Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR).

With about 700 km covered during this journey, this is said to be one of the most successful translocation of deer in India.

“One unique feature of the project was that there were no human imprints on the animals. Only a little amount of paint was sprayed on the animals to easily identify them,” said Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), Sanjay Kumar Srivastava.

Speaking about the need for the move, Srivastava said the initiative was taken up as a pilot project to find a permanent solution to prevent animals straying inside the city and to conserve the ecosystem.

“Most of these deer were captured inside the city premises. With less feed found here, they tend to eat plastic and garbage which affects their health and at times proves fatal. In fact, recently, about six kg plastic was found inside the stomach of a dead deer. Following this, we wanted to implement the project. It was appreciated and supported by Tamilnadu Forest Minister Dindigul C Sreenivasan,” he added.

Forest officials set up a forest atmosphere inside the truck used for transportation of the animals.

This translocation is more like a win-win situation, we can also save the animals roaming in the city and releasing them in the tiger reserve would boost the habitat, he explained.

Srivastava said KMTR was chosen because the predator-prey ratio in that place was not as good as in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, Anamalai Tiger Reserve or Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve.

“These deer will suit the ecosystem well in Mundhanthurai. They will graze the coarse grass in the area making way for fresh greenery. At present, only female deer have been shifted. Since the male deer will have antlers, we will wait for them to shed them and later transport them,” he added.

THE TRUCK
Explaining about the special arrangements made for the translocation, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), Sanjay Kumar Srivastava said it was one of the most challenging tasks.
“Being one of the sensitive animals, it is not easy to translocate deer as they get easily stressed. The truck was designed in such a way that the animals do not panic. Correct space should be given for the animals, they should not be cramped. Similarly, more space also should not be given as they might try to run and get injured. The floor was filled with sand and was covered with hay and grass. Plants were kept inside the truck to give a natural feel which the animals can also feed upon. Arrangements were also made for the animals to drink water. Breaks were given at regular intervals during which fodder and water were refilled. The temperature was also maintained. Water was sprayed to keep the animals cool,” he added.
He added that to make sure that the animals do not find it difficult to adapt to the new location, they were released near a waterhole.
“The deer left in the Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve are healthy now and will be monitored for a month. We are glad that the project has been successful so far,” he said.

 

Balasubramani Muniyandi