Chennai: Fake and insensitive media reports coupled with thoughtless action from the state forest department have resulted in the death of over 10 spotted deer in the past two months ever since they were ‘rescued’ by the foresters from Taramani, where trees were felled recently for construction activities.
It all started with netizens posting Facebook comment screaming “Deer eating plastic and drinking sewer, then these posts were picked by mainstream media carrying reports on these deer. That’s how the rescue programme of stray deer in Chennai started”, recalls an informed forest officer. Initially, the department was resistant to shifting of about 30 deer, as the move would completely wipe out the specie from the Velachery-Taramani landscape. However the department relocated the deer resulting in the frequent deaths of deer, the source said.
“On Monday, a TV channel carried a WhatsApp forward screaming 10 deer died in a single day. When we asked for the authenticity of the news and to check what went wrong there is no reply from the media till now. Yes, 9 deer died and during summer and more deer both in captive and wild will die due to natural reasons, but there is no such thing of a dozen dying in a single day, please do not waste your time on such rumours”, said a forest officer who wished not to be dragged in to such news items.
“In 2012, a similar rescue operation was carried out in Nandanam poultry research station where about 25 deer were rescued and half of them died within a few days of rescue and release. Conservationists have warned not to touch the deer as they are vulnerable for heart attacks, but still we attend them under the guise of ‘rescue’. Let them eat plastic and drink sewer and have a slow peaceful death. Media is another headache for us as it fails to understand conservation. Remember because of media hype, three tigers were shot dead in Nilgiris as ‘man eaters,” recalled the senior ranger, who has worked in Chennai wildlife headquarters. The best thing for the stray deer is to feed or support them in pocket where they live. The focus should be on the retrieving the spots that support wildlife and not the spendthrift rescue operation, the ranger noted.