Move to shift sambhars to tiger reserve opposed
Activists and experts have raised alarm over a wildlife department move to relocate sambhar deer from Kota Military Station (KMS) to Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve (MHTR) to increase the prey base, ahead of shifting tigers to the reserve.
Reason: Sambhar deer of the KMS area have a history of eating polybags. Autopsy reports of all sambhar deers that have died in the area have confirmed as much. Experts say shifting of such deer to the new park will endanger wildlife in the reserve, including the tigers for whom they are the designated prey.
The department plans to relocate tigers in MHTR by December this year. Over 300 cheetals from different forest areas of Rajasthan including Jaipur, Ajmer and Jodhpur have already been taken to the reserve, and 13 sambhars (Rusa Unicolor), which is a large deer species, were released into MHTR over the last few months.
Disturbingly, of the 13 sambars released into MHTR, four died after tranquilisation, just before or after their relocation.
Wildlife activist and founder of Mukundra Wildlife and Environment Society, Tapeshwar Singh Bhati, has written to the chief wildlife warden of Rajasthan, GV Reddy, urging that shifting of sambhars be stopped.
“There is possibility of tigers and scavengers catching infection on consuming such polybag eating sambhars,” he said.
“The department is now relocating ungulates to MHTR since it has failed to consolidate prey base for tigers,” he said.
The senior veterinary doctor of Kota Zoo, who performed the autopsies, admitted “sambhars in the KMS and nearby civilian areas consumes household garbage thrown in polybags which collect in their stomach.”
Sunayan Sharma, deputy conservator of forest, Sariska Tiger Reserve, said: “Tigers do not consume intestinal part of the kill, but scavangers and other creatures like wild boars, jackals and vultures consume the intestines and leaves no part of the kill, so such creatures will be vulnerable to infections if they eat parts of such sambhar. And if tigers kill such scavengers they too may get infected”.
Experts say sambhar deer with polythene in their stomachs could endanger wildlife in Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve.