CHENNAI: Out of 39 free-ranging deer rescued from Taramani in a month-long operation, nine have reportedly died due to plastic ingestion. Officials of the Guindy National Park (GNP), where the animals were kept under observation, told Express that deer succumbed one after another over a course of two months after the rescue, despite the best care provided. It’s unfortunate, but common for deer that strayed out of their natural habitat to feed on plastic waste disposed off unscientifically. The postmortem reports suggests plastic ingestion as the primary cause, besides some internal injuries and stress factor, said a senior official.
Despite the death of nine deer, forest officials claimed the rescue operation was a success. “We have 80 per cent success rate, which is phenomenal. Capturing deer is highly complex and the animal can die out of stress during the operation. However, only one animal died while capturing and others were successfully rehabilitated inside the Children’s Park in GNP. Out of the remaining 30 deer, six have been released into GNP forest and the remaining are still kept under observation at the Children’s Park rescue enclosure, which is secured and out of public glare. The animals are healthy,” the official said.
Shravan Krishnan, animal rights activist and who was part of the rescue operation, said the time frame of the deaths was still unclear. “Plastic ingestion would be the reason. Until we see the postmortem reports, it is difficult to comment. Stray deer problem is peculiar to the city. No where in the country, there is such a scenario and we have to question their capture,” he said.
The 39 deer were rescued in March-April after photographs of them ingesting plastic went viral in February. The herd had reportedly strayed out IIT Madras and for past one year has made a green belt adjacent to American International School in Taramani their home. But, a real-estate firm cleared the greenery leaving the herd shelterless. The last time forest officials undertook such massive scale rescue operation was in 2014-15, during which 320 deer have been rescued and relocated.
Meanwhile, the forest department has sent a proposal to the State government to capture free-ranging deer in other areas of the city. According to the latest census, there are about 280 spotted deer that have made green patches along the city roads their habitat and breeding grounds.“We have written to the State government for necessary assistance. We have identified 12 spots where the free-ranging deer population is observed like in Saidapet, Velachary, Indiranagar, Gandhinagar etc. These animals are potentially facing threats from stray dogs, speeding vehicles and ingesting plastic waste,” a forest official concluded.