Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh on Wednesday took up the issue of the mysterious death of cheetals at a wildlife sanctuary in the Aravali hills in South Delhi with Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.
In a letter to Ms. Dikshit, the Union Minister urged her to “have the matter examined” and take suitable action. A number of cheetals had been reported killed in the sanctuary in Deoli village and the bodies of three have been recovered so far.
The first deer was found killed in the forest by a resident of Deoli village on Sunday evening and the matter was reported to the guards. Later the residents claimed spotting several more dead cheetals in the forest. It was only on Tuesday evening that the Forests and Wildlife Department swung into action.
Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden D.M. Shukla said on Wednesday that so far three bodies have been found. “The search is on but it is a very dense forest and we are yet to find more,” he said.
Mr. Shukla said it has now been established that the cheetals were killed by stray dogs which had entered the sanctuary – that has a 10 feet high perimeter wall and fence all around – through an area where some land-filling work was going on. “Though the fence has gaps at a couple of places, they have been plugged. These dogs in all probability entered from a land-filling site near a ‘mazar'.”
“The stray dogs hunted down the cheetals. It was a ferocious attack. One of the cheetals had its back side all eaten up. As they have antlers, they must have found it difficult to run in the thick forest. On the other hand the dogs are smaller and faster.”
The Conservator said while the post-mortem on the killed cheetals had been performed, the report was yet to reach him. “Meanwhile, our personnel along with teams from Friendicoes began a search for these stray dogs today. We have caught one of them.” Mr. Shukla said he would now also work towards increasing the height of the fence to prevent a repeat of the incident.
Meanwhile, Arshad of Wildlife Rescue Helpline of Wildlife SOS-India confirmed that the post-mortem on one of the cheetals had been performed by doctors from his organisation. “It is confirmed that the cheetals were killed by stray dogs,” he said.