As the scorching sun set on the small town of Lingampet in Telangana’s Kamareddy district on Wednesday, an otherwise rare occurrence happened yet again - a deer walked into town. The animal later crashed into the doors of a commercial complex, in search of water and respite from the heat.
Lingampet is just about 10 km away from the Pocharam Wildlife Sanctuary. While spotting deer, antelopes and even leopards in the nearby farms is common, locals say that it is very rare that the animals enter concrete human settlements to quench their thirst. Locals say that this is the first time they have seen a deer in the town.
“We have never seen this happen before,” says Khasim Khan, a local resident of Lingampet, “It came into the complex and found water near a shop and drank it.”
Khasim is glad the deer returned to its habitat unharmed. “It was good that the deer was neither spotted by poachers nor by stray dogs. It got confused looking for a way out of the town, so it was handed over to forest officials,” Khasim says. Officials later freed the deer into the sanctuary. Yellareddy Forest Range Officer Radha Krishna confirmed to TNM that the deer was rescued.
This isn’t the first time such an incident is happening. With the heat soaring and lakes drying up, animals from Pocharam are straying into villages and towns, risking lives. In the last few days, Kamareddy has seen temperatures shoot up to 42 degrees Celsius. With the nearby lakes drying up, locals say that animals are parched.
Radha Krishna however says that the deer might not have entered the town due to thirst. “We have kept saucer pits across the sanctuary and water is being filled every day, so we cannot say the deer came for water,” he says. “Earlier too deer have come into the town along with sheep, it might have just walked in like that,” he claims.
However, villagers and animal activists don’t agree, and allege that wild animals in the sanctuary are being left thirsty because officials are failing to provide them water.
V Mahesh Kumar, an animal rights activist alleges, “They might claim that they provide water, but they don’t do it properly. Encroachment into the wildlife areas is also a reason why this is happening.”
Requesting anonymity, sources from the Forest Department accept that water is not being provided to animals to the required extent. “We are providing water, but not in all areas. We do not have enough funds, sometimes we spend our own money to provide water,” one source said.
The trend is worrying not just because the wild animals could hurt humans, but also themselves and other animals. Just two days ago, a leopard killed two calves belonging to a farmer on the edges of the Pocharam Wildlife Sanctuary, Telangana Today reports. In yet another similar incident, a hyena killed two sheep in Kondapur, adjourning Medak district.
The Telangana forest department says that a meeting of top officials called by Bhoopal Reddy, Special Secretary to the Chief Minister of Telangana, has taken stock of the issue.