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Spotted deer maimed & killed in quest for musk

Amateur musk hunters mutilated and killed a spotted deer at the Badam Pahari animal park in Chandrapura, 34km from Bokaro steel city, on Tuesday night in a macabre mirroring of how a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

Musk, a class of aromatic substances commonly used as base notes in perfumery, is found in glandular secretions of the musk deer and not in its spotted cousin. The solitary musk deer is extinct in Europe and live mainly in forested and alpine scrub habitats in the mountains of southern Asia, notably the Himalayas, and not in Jharkhand by any means.

The horrific incident, in which the gang of poachers removed the entire stomach of the animal with daggers in search of the popular perfume fixative, has prompted Bokaro DFO Arvind Manish to rush a probe team to the park run by Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC). “It is an act of perversion and greed. It is a shame for the society. I have ordered an inquiry,” Manish told The Telegraph.

The probe team, being led by Bokaro range officer Nagendra Chowdhry and comprising two other members, reached the Badam Pahari Deer Park on Wednesday afternoon.

They learnt that a Badam Pahari forest worker was the first to discover the carcass around 6 o’clock in the morning. He found the animal had been slashed at the throat and then stabbed with sharp-edged weapon, possibly daggers, to dismember its stomach in what seemed to be a desperate hunt for musk.

The worker immediately brought the matter to the notice of Chandrapura forest officer Nirmal Kumar Rajak and DVC project head B.N Singh who informed the DFO.

The musk pod is, incidentally, found in the rectal area of only the male musk deer.

The gruesome killing of the spotted deer has doubly disgraced the DVC, which has not been able to shift the animals to the Rajderva deer enclosure inside Hazaribagh National Park since 2008, when the park was de-recognised by the forest department. Badam Pahari has also remained closed to public for three years now following directives from the Central Zoo Authority (CZA).

The park spread over five hectares came into existence in 1990 when then DVC chairman P.C. Luther brought four pairs of spotted deer from Maithon in Dhanbad. Over the last two decades, the deer population increased to 55, prompting the decision to relocate some animals.

In April 2012, when trucks from the Hazaribagh park came to Badam Pahari to take the deer, local political leaders and residents put up stiff opposition and threatened arson to scuttle the plan.

Now that question would be raised on the safety of the spotted deer in Chandrapura once again, DFO Manish insisted that they had not ruled out relocation. “The deer have weak heart and are sensitive to stress. We can send them to the national park only when the weather is cooler. Else, we will be risking their lives,” he added.