Coimbatore

Last remaining deer in Ooty park face uncertain future

The number of Sambar and barking deer, which had been at 19 individuals in 2017, had fallen to just 14 at the deer park in Udhagamandalam.

The number of Sambar and barking deer, which had been at 19 individuals in 2017, had fallen to just 14 at the deer park in Udhagamandalam.   | Photo Credit: M_Sathyamoorthy

With a steady number of annual deaths, the last remaining deer at the Ooty deer park continue to face an uncertain future, with no decision yet being made about their relocation to another facility.

According to forest department officials, the number of Sambar deer and barking deer, which had been at 19 individuals in 2017, has fallen to just 14 over the last couple of years mostly due to the animals dying of old age.

Even though the park has been officially closed to visitors for around half a decade, with the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) deeming the facility to not meet the required standards to continue operations, the fate of the remaining deer at the park has been up for debate.

A few years ago, there was a proposal to transfer the remaining animals to the Tiruchi Zoo, but concerns over the safety of the deer, which are known to be prone to shock and sudden death in high-stress situations has discouraged such a solution, officials said.

“The decision on what to do with the remaining deer at the facility remains unresolved, with top forest department officials still unsure about what to do with the remaining animals,” said a senior forest department official.

The management of the park is being undertaken by the forest officials and staff of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR). Officials said that one forester, and a few other staff posted with the department are stationed at the deer park to look after the well-being of the animals.

“There is also a proposal to release the animals back into the wild, where they could help bolster remaining deer populations, or serve as a prey base for carnivores,” an official said, adding that once the remaining deer are moved out, further decisions about what do to with the facility can be resolved.

“A proposal to transform the deer park into a rehabilitation centre for the endangered Nilgiri tahr, where injured animals can be brought and treated is also being considered,” the official added.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 2:24:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/last-remaining-deer-in-ooty-park-face-uncertain-future/article30813629.ece

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