Deer jostle for space at 'Tripunithura Hill Palace'; many hurt

260 deer crammed in two-acre enclosure.

Kochi: A sharp increase in deer population over the years at the Tripunithura Hill Palace Museum has resulted in the animals fighting for territory and space, leaving many of them injured. Over 260 deer, including 30 Sambar deer, are crammed in a two-acre enclosure located at the top of the hilly area leaving them restless over space and hot climatic conditions.

“Some of the deer can be seen with blood stains on their horns while certain others are limping. When asked, a caretaker told us they were gasping for space and indulge in fighting for territory, especially Sambar species,” said Sreejith Sreedharan, a resident of Kalamassery who visited the tourist spot.

E Dinesh, Registrar of the Centre for Heritage Studies which maintains the deer park at the museum, admitted the issue saying they are trying their best to fast track the project to relocate the deer. “Though the Culture Mini-stry approved a '1crore project to relocate the deer, the Forest department has sought more time. They are yet to identify a suitable forest space. We’re facing several challenges for their upkeep with the food alone costing us '2.5 lakh per month,” he said.

“The number of deer to be shifted is huge and the animals are known to be sensitive over the habitat. Hence there is a risk of casualty if they are shifted to a new habitat suddenly. They should be first provided an environment similar to forest habitat for nearly six months,” said a senior Forest officer.

The deer enclosure was started in 1992 with just 18 animals, including eight Sambar deer. However, their number rose sharply over the years. Last year 11 of the deer died due to lung infection.

Also the green cover in the Deer park got destroyed with the animals skinning out the bark of trees resulting in them drying out. The Central Zoo Authority issued a notice to close down the enclosure in March 2016.

“The issue is going to be worse with the Summer approaching. We’ll construct temporary shade nets to reduce intensity of the heat,” the official said.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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