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Foresters relocate 140 deer from Chennai streets to zoo

The Times of India, New Delhi, 01 December, 2014

CHENNAI: Catching a glimpse of spotted deer on the streets of Chennai may soon become a thing of the past. The forest department has begun translocating to Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Vandalur and Guindy National Park all deer found outside protected areas like IIT-Madras, Raj Bhavan and Anna University.
The department has already relocated around 140 spotted deer have been trapped in cages in the last four months in various locations such as Adyar, Kotturpuram, Ekkattuthangal, Madhya Kailash, Velachery, Guindy, Adambakkam and Tambaram. Foresters moved as many as 80 to Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Vandalur and the rest to Guindy National Park.
Forest officials said they had to relocate the animals to prevent them from dying in road accidents, contracting infectious diseases or falling prey to poachers and facing attacks by street dogs.
"They usually feed on food waste dumped in garbage bins. Some of them eat the plastic with which the food is wrapped. The plastic eventually kills the deer," said additional principal chief conservator of forest and Arignar Anna Zoological Park director K S S V P Reddy. "We have found balls of plastic in their intestines during autopsy."
The forest department in 2011 relocated 40 spotted deer or chital from Poultry Research Station at Nandanam to the Vandalur zoo and Children's Park for metro rail construction.
There are an estimated 500 spotted deer outside protected areas in the city. The state government has allocated Rs 44.73 lakh to translocate and rehabilitate them. Officials plan to relocate at least 150 more deer by the end of March 2015.
Nine teams of foresters began the process of translocating these easily-traumatised animals required five months ago.
"We started in June this year, when we placed grass and other feed for a month. After that, we began placing the feed in cages in the same location. Once the deer is accustomed to visiting the cage for the feed, we trap them. They cannot be caught like other wild animals with tranquilisers and be placed immediately in cages as they could die of shock," a forest ranger said.
A senior forest official said no animal had been injured during the translocation.