To develop a full-fledged deer park at Gangaikondan with all protective measures, fodder and water facilities, the Department of Forest has forwarded a proposal at an outlay of Rs. 2. 87 crore to the State Government.
Since the Reserve Forest area, which is to an extent of 441.16 hectare between Gangaikondan and Thaazhaiyooththu, is the southernmost habitat for spotted deer in the country, the Department of Forest has now decided to convert it into a full-fledged deer park so as to protect these animals, which are now facing threat from poachers and are also being hit by speeding vehicles on the adjacent Tirunelveli – Madurai four-lane national highway as they move out of their habitat in search of food and water.
Since predator population is completely absent in this area, it has resulted in significant increase in spotted deer population, but has triggered scarcity with regard to food and water. As a result the spotted deer, after scaling the compound wall on the western side of the habitat and the wire fence on the other three sides, are now migrating to the surrounding areas up to even Abhishekapatti, where they face threat from poachers and street dogs .
To execute this project, the Department of Forest has drawn up a plan for establishing a deer park at Gangaikondan habitat, now housing around 450 spotted deer.
Due to successive monsoon failure in the district, the animals quench their thirst at the small tank located near the main entrance of the habitat. But still the incidents of spotted deer being knocked down by speeding vehicles on the highway continue.
As per the proposal, fodder and shelter species will be grown with sprinklers at an outlay of Rs. 1.25 crore and deer proof fence for 4 metre-height erected around the habitat at the cost of Rs. 27.85 lakh. Drinking water facilities will be created on an outlay of Rs. 25 lakh.
After strengthening the existing compound wall on the western side of the habitat on an outlay of Rs. 9.30 lakh, a modern technique is going to be used to caution the passers-by about the ‘deer crossing area’.
To alert the drivers of the vehicles zooming past the adjacent national highway about the deer crossing area, an iron arch will be erected for about 100 feet length with solar blinkers being controlled by photo sensitive switches, all on an outlay of Rs. 33 lakh.
As a prelude to this proposed development works, Minister for Forest K. T. Patchaimal visited the Gangaikondan spotted deer habitation along with Principal Secretary, Ministry of Forest and Environment C.V. Shankar, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Gowtham Dey, Conservator of Forests S.K. Shanmugasundaram and District Forest Officer C. H. Padma on Thursday and held discussion with the officials on executing the project if it gets the government’s nod.
He also disbursed loans to individuals and village forest committees before leaving for Courtallam, where he inaugurated an anti-poaching camp established on an outlay of Rs. 5 lakh.