Barking deer at their cramped Tata zoo address in Jamshedpur on Wednesday. Picture by Animesh Sengupta
The alarming bark at Tata Steel Zoological Park, Jamshedpur, may soon be more muted.
Burdened by the burgeoning barking deer population, Tata zoo authorities have decided to shift some of these animals either to Birsa Munda Biological Park in Ormanjhi, Ranchi, or the deer hub at Makulakocha on the foothills of Dalma, 25km from the city.
Permission for deer relocation has already been sought from principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) D.K. Srivastava. Zoo vet Manik Palit confirmed that they had shot a letter to Srivastava and were awaiting a reply.
According to Palit, a herd of eight barking deer can either be gifted or given as a part of an animal exchange programme. “Both are acceptable to us,” the vet said.
At present, there are 22 barking deer at Tata zoo, but the small enclosure of seven square metres has the capacity to accommodate only 15. Added to this, some of the females are pregnant, which effectively means that the population will only go up in the coming months.
Besides the barking deer, Tata zoo also boasts a population of 65 spotted deer. While some are in the enclosure, others have been shifted to the Safari Park in the steel city.
“We cannot keep more than 15 barking deer in the enclosure. It may result in territorial clash among the animals. The chance of diseases also increases manifold,” said a zoo official.
Lauding zoo employees for their dedicated service, Palit said that healthy breeding of barking deer showed that animal healthcare facilities were good at their end. “But things are becoming complicated. It is almost impossible to handle so many of them. We are desperate to shift the animals,” Palit said.
The experienced vet went on to add that unlike spotted deer, vasectomy was not conducted on barking deer. “The reason is that these animals are in high demand across the country,” he said, adding that there were no medical hurdles as such for not conducting vasectomy otherwise.
Sources said it was unlikely that Ranchi’s Birsa zoo, which already is overcrowded with 17 barking deer, will offer any help.
However, Dalma range officer Mangal Kashyap offered some hope. “Space is not a problem for us, but the decision to bring in the deer herd will have to be taken by higher authorities.”
He added that they had 41 spotted deer and the vulnerable sambar in the sprawling 10-hectare park at Makulakocha.