After an RTI (Right to Information) reply revealed that a total of 35 deers were reported to have died within the campus of IIT Madras in the past six months up till December 2021 and that postmortem of only 15 spotted deer was conducted, IIT-M has issued a statement saying data from the institute shows that there has been a steady decline in deaths of deer on campus in 2021.
The RTI data stated that of the 35 deer deaths reported, postmortem of only 15 deer was conducted and it was found that two deer died of Tuberculosis (TB), two of weakness, four deer of plastic/polythene ingestion and two due to dog bites. The reply also stated that no deer or blackbucks died due to accidents.
According to the data furnished by IIT-M, there were 96 deer reported to be dead in 2018; 79 in 2019; 83 in 2020 and 53 in 2021. However, this data does not include the deer/blackbuck injured due to dog bites and taken out of the campus by the Wildlife Department for treatment at a local NGO, the institute stated. Further, IIT Madras claims that the deaths of deer on campus due to dog bites have reduced from 28 in 2020 to five in 2021 as communicated by the wildlife authorities on January 7 this year.
The institute also said that there were around 15 to 16 stray dogs roaming around inside the campus and harming the deer, blackbuck, and monitor lizards. “The most recent feral dog bite on a blackbuck was in November 2021, leading to grievous injury and later death of the blackbuck during treatment”, it said and added that there is constant movement of birds, reptiles, and mammals between the contiguous areas of Guindy National Park, and the IIT Madras campus.
Regarding the number of postmortems, the institute said that when a deer is injured or dead, the Tamil Nadu Forest Department takes the deer away from the campus and treatment is given at a local NGO, as decided by the Forest Department. “The postmortem report on a dead deer is decided by the Forest Department and not by IIT Madras. As IIT Madras is not provided a copy of the postmortem report, IIT-M is not able to identify the cause of death,”, said.
Addressing the plastic pollution issue, the institute noted that it has taken “rigorous steps to reduce plastic use and eliminate plastic waste on the campus and that it is a campus that cares for biodiversity and all measures have been taken to keep the campus safe for the deer.”