The century-old Mysuru zoo has achieved another milestone as it successfully translocated two batches of surplus sambar deer to the distant Dandeli in Uttara Kannada district.
After a similar exercise in 2019 where the zoo translocated over 50 spotted deer to Arabithittu wildlife sanctuary near here, the zoo embarked on another mission of shifting surplus deer. This time, the challenge was the distance. Unlike Arabithittu which is close to Mysuru, Dandeli is over 500 km from Mysuru.
Understanding the challenges and knowing that the deer are sensitive animals, the zoo management took up the major task and achieved success like in 2019. Nine herbivores were translocated to the tiger reserve.
Like in 2019, the zoo adopted the same method where the animals were not tranquilised but conditioned naturally so that they easily move into custom-built containers kept in their enclosure, and later safely transported in trucks.
“Nine have been translocated to Dandeli so far and all nine of them safely reached the destination without any injuries. The exercise was challenging but was executed as planned,” said Zoo Authority of Karnataka Chairman Shivakumar.
The overcrowding of sambar deer prompted the authorities to take steps for releasing the surplus in the wild.
The conditioning of the remaining animals is on and they would be moved to Dandeli gradually. The translocated sambars are housed in temporary enclosures for the time being.
The zoo should display not more than 30-40 deer as per the animal collection plan suggested by the CZA. “Captive breeding increased their numbers and are therefore being shifted in a bid to improve the prey base,” said Zoo Executive Director Ajit Kulkarni.
The measure can address human-animal conflicts, he added.
As many as 40 sambar deer had been identified for translocation to Dandeli. The soft release of the animals has to be done in phases, and sambar deer have been translocated so far in two batches.
Each crate that is mounted on trucks can hold about 5-6 sambar deer. Two custom-designed containers had been placed inside the enclosures at the zoo for conditioning.
The deer being a sensitive animal, the possibility of them getting injured in the tranquilisation process was high. Therefore, the zoo adopted the conditioning method which was successful in the past. The custom-built containers are kept in the deer’s enclosure with feed. Once they get used to the container, it would be shut and then lifted carefully with a crane and placed on the truck. What is crucial here is that the truck should not stop en route and its engine should not turn off for keeping the animals calm all through their journey.
The translocation done to Arabithittu was one of the success stories of the zoo since the exercise was carried out in a professional manner. The Dandeli forests were identified for the translocation only after the area was studied and it was discovered that the habitat supports herbivores like sambar deer with ample fodder availability.