In a decision which could raise several eyebrows, the Telangana Forest department has taken up a programme to translocate excessive population of wild herbivores from zoos and parks to the tiger bearing areas and other natural habitat in order to improve the prey base in the respecting locations.
The department had released several animals from the Kakatiya Zoo Park to Eturunagaram Wildlife Sanctuary and from the Nehru Zoo Park to Amrabad Tiger Reserve, over the past three months.
The animals translocated include 20 spotted deer, six peafowl, and 13 sambar deer to Eturunagaram, and 19 spotted deer to the Amrabad Tiger Reserve.
By the end of March, the department proposes to translocate 400 spotted deer from the Nehru Zoo Park and Mahavir Harina Vanasthali National Park to the tiger bearing areas, which also include forest areas outside the tiger reserves where the tigers have been spotted.
The State has three zoological parks respectively at Hyderabad, Hanumakonda, and Mahabubnagar, and three deer parks at Shamirpet, Kinnerasani, and Lower Manair Dam, Karimnagar, where the herbivore population has been rapidly increasing, and managing the population has become difficult.
At the same time, there are areas such as Amrabad and Kawal Tiger Reserves, Kinnerasani Wildlife Sanctuary, Eturunagaram wildlife Sanctuary, and Pakhal Wildlife Sanctuary where movement of tiger, panther and other wild predators is noticed, a statement said, adding that these areas have comparatively low prey base and need strengthening.
Keeping in view the above situation, the Forest department has decided to capture and translocate wild herbivores including spotted deer, sambar, nilgai, black buck and others from zoos and parks and release them into the wild. The operation is permitted under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, which authorises the chief wildlife warden to translocate excess animals for scientific management of populations, the note justified.
Due care is exercised during translocation, and the protocols followed, including checking the animals for communicable diseases and stomach worms, treatment and vaccination of the infected animals, contactless transportation during night, release at sites with year-long availability of food and water, etc.
The animals translocated will be monitored by the local staff for a period of three months till they mingle with the existing population, the statement said. The entire translocation process is done with due care and causalities during the process is less than 3%, it said.