CHENNAI:In the wake of increasing number of wildlife deaths in the IIT-Madras campus, a group of students have taken upon themselves the task of addressing the problem. The group, which calls itself as Friends of Animals, is helping the institute implement animal birth control (ABC) programme and sterilising the stray dogs on the campus at their own cost.
In the last two months, at least 13 animals have died, including five endangered black bucks, and the Forest Department has attributed a majority of these deaths to stray dogs, whose numbers have reportedly ballooned. So far, 80 dogs have been sterilised and the institute plans to achieve the 100 per cent sterilisation target soon. Shradha Sharma, fourth-year Ph.D student and a member of Friends of Animals, told Express that this is the best that the IIT Madras can do under the current circumstances since the rules strictly prohibit relocation of strays.
“The institute has a MoU with Blue Cross to implement the ABC programme. The Blue Cross has sterilised about 40 dogs and we have sterilised about 40 and vaccinated them. We feed the dogs regularly, befriend and take them to veterinary clinics for sterilisation,” she said.The Ph.D scholar said the group, which has about 40 members, is also helping puppies littered on the campus find a new home outside. About 10 pups were given for adoption and regular follow-up is done on how they are being taken care of.
Another member of the group, Tryphena Duddley, who is a project associate with Gopalakrishnan Deshpande Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, said: “There is a lot of unrest on the campus about us feeding the dogs, but our argument is if we kick out these animals, the new dogs will come in because they are territorial. The new dogs may not be sterilised and vaccinated. It is always better to have familiar dogs on the campus rather than the unknown ones. We vaccinate the dogs annually and keep them clean. So, there is no danger of rabies,” she said.
Though Friends for Animals is still awaiting formal approval from the IIT-Madras administration, dean of students MS Sivakumar has approved the group’s activities and is funding the sterilisation programme taken up by the students.
However, S Chinny Krishna, former vice-chairman, Animal Welfare Board of India and co-founder of Blue Cross of India, feels the wildlife conflict on the campus will not reduce until IIT-Madras makes its walls dog-proof. “As long as there is easy food available on the campus and solid waste not properly disposed of, stray dogs will get attracted. The institute walls should also be made dog-proof to stop the new ones entering the campus. Till then, all the good work done by a few individuals will not yield results. The Blue Cross of India is always ready to help IIT-Madras in any form possible.”
Animal rights activist Antony Clement Rubin, who filed a case in the National Green Tribunal against IIT-Madras, also echoed the opinion of Krishna. “Recently, hazardous waste was found dumped in the open near the bio-technology department on the campus. We can find food waste strewn near the canteens all the time. Spotted deer and dogs get attracted to these things.”