Deer population in Anna University faces inbreeding threat due to isolation

Inbreeding is producing offspring from the breeding of animals that are closely related genetically.

CHENNAI: The isolated deer population at Anna University’s College of Engineering, Guindy campus and its adjacent staff quarters are facing a threat due to inbreeding, experts warned.

In a first among state universities, Anna University has released a biodiversity register for its sprawling 185-acre College of Engineering, Guindy campus last week.

During the biodiversity survey conducted recently at the campus, the spotted deer (chital) was seen in sparse groups of four to eight in the Anna University campus and in staff quarters.

“We have found around 20 spotted deer isolated in Anna University main campus and staff quarters. They are facing the threat of inbreeding due to their isolation and restrictions in movement. It could cause various diseases to them and wipe out the entire population in a few years,” said K. Venkatraman former director, Zoological Survey of India, Kolkata, who supervised the survey of fauna inside the campus.

Inbreeding is producing offspring from the breeding of animals that are closely related genetically. The animal’s ability to survive will be reduced due to inbreeding depression. It is believed to be the breakup groups of IIT Madras campus and Guindy National Park.

The suburbs of south Chennai have some of the last fragments of the natural habitats with Anna University campus, Guindy National Park and IIT Madras, Raj Bhavan habitat complex in the north and Pallikaranai-Perungudi marsh habitat complex in the south and south-east.

“The splitting of the once contiguous habitat into three different patches had a range of ecological impacts. We have to find ways for spotted deer movement from Anna University to IIT Madras campus and Guindy National Park to save them,” he urged.

There is a need for a detailed study on the population of the spotted deer in Anna University with details of how many males, females and fawns. “We need a periodical survey to monitor the deer population and conserve them,” Mr.Venkatraman said.

In the Anna University’s biodiversity’s register, it was also mentioned that males were uncommon among deer groups in the campus. The continuous presence of humans and new buildings also has reduced the habitat of the deer population. The study also mentioned that the endangered blackbuck was not seen during the survey. Blackbuck was seen when there were a lot of vacant spaces with grasslands in Anna University campus.

“The continuous presence of humans on the campus of Anna University has warranted a conservation plan that integrates ecology with its long-term development goals,” biodiversity register urged. When contacted, Anna University officials said the university will take steps to conserve the deer population in the campus.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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