NEW DELHI: The forest department has started the process of relocating sambhar deer from Delhi Golf Course to the Asola wildlife sanctuary in south Delhi, which was on the cards for a while since they were growing in number and a larger habitat was required for them to thrive, said officials. According to the officials, three deer have been shifted to Asola so far, while a herd of at least 20-30 more are still left to be relocated.
“They need a larger habitat with a good food base and minimal human interference. Their numbers were multiplying and hence the golf club area was falling short of their requirements. They belong to forested areas where they can survive well,” said a senior official.
In 2010 and 2019, deer from the golf club had been relocated to different parts of Rajasthan such as Ranthambore and Udaipur. This is the first time that the department decided in favour of keeping the deer in Delhi itself.
The forest department’s chief wildlife warden Nisheeth Saxena said, “This time we decided that Delhi’s fauna must stay here itself, now that Asola has excellent vegetation with plant species native to the ridge and good, tall grasses.”
Earlier, deer were sent to Rajasthan because with a larger forest area, more prey base was required. But, now Asola itself has an increasing wildlife population which increases the requirement for more deer, he added.
The department is carrying out its first wildlife census at Asola with the leopard at its focus, which started last July. So far, it has spotted five leopards in the 30 camera traps installed to study animal behaviour. Last December, foresters spotted a striped hyena in the sanctuary, which is a near-threatened species. Its presence, according to experts, is a good sign of habitat improvement.
The Delhi Golf Club had earlier requested the forest department to relocate the deer. They were growing in number and were capable of hurting one another during infighting. The forest department had installed 10 camera traps to monitor their movements and study their group dynamics before deciding on relocation.