Rising deer population a headache for Delhi Zoo

Last Updated: Thu, Dec 30, 2010 12:40 hrs

New Delhi, Dec 30 (IANS) Officials at the Delhi Zoo are racking their brains trying to find housing for its burgeoning deer population as they are running out of enclosures to accommodate them.

The Delhi zoo has 11 species and sub-species of antelopes and deer, of which three varieties -- Black bucks, Sambar and Hog deer -- are over-populated, according to officials.

'We have about 130 black bucks, 70 Sambar deer and over 50 Hog deer,' an official said.

Few endangered groups like Sangai, Chinkara and Chowchinga are also present.

According to zoo officials, various steps are being taken to control the expanding deer population.

'As the deer are prolific breeders, we plan to discourage breeding in other varieties except the endangered species,' the official said.

However, the zoo authorities said they face a lot of challenges in controlling the deer population.

'For example, the black buck antelope are an important variety so we cannot carry out a birth control procedure. So to stop them from mating, we have to keep the male and female separate,' he said.

Meanwhile, the veterinary department of the zoo implemented castration (a male loses the functions of the testicles or a female loses the functions of the ovaries) on two male deer on trial basis. But with high risk of fatality, the zoo authorities stopped the procedure.

'The high risk of fatalities associated with herding up the males and castrating them prevented us from going in for such a procedure again,' the official added.

Meanwhile, some of the male deer are even sterilized.

The zoo authorities further said: 'Usually the sterilization process is carried out on older deer so it does not bring down the deer population drastically... we leave the younger ones to assist in reproduction.'

In another initiative, the zoo authorities are looking out to exchange its deer with other animals from various other zoos and sanctuaries.

Recently, 15 black buck varieties were translocated to the Bilaspur Sanctuary in Chhattisgarh.

Animals can be exchanged within Indian zoos or between an Indian and a foreign zoo only after the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) approves it.

'The CZA should be more active in clearing the pending proposals for exchange of animals with the Delhi zoo so that certain deer can be translocated to a foreign zoo,' the official added.