A letter from IIT Madras to the Wildlife Warden states that ‘unauthorised measures’ may be needed to control the population of stray dogs that attack the deer.

IIT-Madras claims deer deaths on campus down by 64pc activists scepticalPicture Courtesy: Valli Chouthry
news Wildlife Wednesday, October 24, 2018 - 19:07

A Right To Information reply sought from the Wildlife Warden of the Guindy National Park in Chennai has revealed that the death of spotted deer and blackbucks at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras has reduced drastically by 64%. However, there has been no population count to compare this new statistic to argue activists.

The RTI, filed by animal activist Antony Rubin reveals that 82 spotted deer and four blackbucks had died on campus in 2017 while 29 spotted deer and 1 blackbuck had died in 2018, as of October 15. Meanwhile, it also notes that three spotted deer fawn had died due to vehicular collision between 2017 and 2018.

Speaking to TNM, Antony says, “The number is suspicious. This sudden drop means there has been a drop in population. There is no proper census on the number of wildlife on campus. So, there is no data to prove that this drastic reduction in deaths is promising.”

However, the RTI reply denies any deaths due to plastic ingestion despite reports of deer straying from campus and consuming plastic along the Taramani stretch near the institution.

A previous RTI reply from the institute had revealed that 220 deer and eight blackbucks had died between 2014 and 2016. An RTI from December 2017 put the population of blackbucks at 32 while there were 372 spotted deer on campus.

Asked for details on the main reason for death, the Wildlife Warden wrote in his RTI reply, “So far only 4 post mortem reports received with reference to deaths in 2018 and the main reason as mentioned in post mortem report is ‘Multiple punctured wounds with haemorrhage’.”

In response to a question on the number of deer and blackbucks that may have died due to ingestion of plastic, the reply said, “Nil as per 4 reports obtained.”

Responding to this, Antony says, “Punctured wounds generally means dog bites. When a deer ingests plastic and becomes bloated, it slows down significantly. If a deer dies due to dog attack, it means there is some underlying problem that slowed the deer down because they are generally very fast. They can’t just be chased like that by dogs.”

Alarmingly, however, a letter from IIT Madras to the Wildlife Warden states that ‘unauthorised measures’ may be needed to control the population of stray dogs that the institute alleges attack the deer.

“To control the population of stray dogs inside the campus, ABC program is in effect, the stray dogs are being neutered and vaccinated with the help of Blue Cross. However, if attacks of deer and blackbuck, particularly fawns and injured animals, by dogs is to be reduced, some additional measures may be needed for which authorisation does not exist,” reads the letter.

"The stray dog presence is due to the poor solid waste management within the campus. Due to improper separation, food and plastics get mixed and the animals eat it by mistake," Antony alleges.

While Antony points out that every death requires a postmortem to be conducted, he calls for an external body to be constituted to look into the deaths and conduct a census of wildlife on campus.

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