Monday, October 13, 2008

INDIA NEWS: Deer Populations Exploding in Guindy National Park

At a time when dwindling animal populations are a concern in most national parks, Guindy National Park (GNP) is struggling to contain its exploding deer population.

Most species of deer reproduce rapidly, leading to stress on their habitat and population explosion. There is also a lot of in-breeding at GNP and as a result, the population is not a healthy one.

GNP, the only national park within city limits, has around 1,100 spotted deer and 380 black bucks. As the foliage reserve in the park is insufficient for the animals, the deer often stray outside in search of food.

"The deer population inside the park has gone beyond control and something has to be done immediately. The park does not have enough foliage to meet the huge demand," a worker at GNP told The Times of India. The park authorities have so far managed to hush up the straying of spotted deer from the park as the city has a strong free-ranging deer population. However, when the forest authorities rescued a black buck from the heart of Velachery in April last year, the straying of animals came to light.

Karunapriya, city wildlife warden in charge of GNP, said that some animals do stray out of the park. "The straying of deer from the park is very difficult to contain. We have open areas near Raj Bhavan and due to security reasons we cannot fence those areas. However, there is no shortage of foliage inside the park.
Otherwise such a huge population of deer could not be thriving," she said.

She also admitted that the gene pool of the deer inside the park is unhealthy because of in-breeding. "We are trying to find a solution to this. We often trap some of the healthy free-ranging spotted deer and let them into the park to enable cross-breeding," Karunapriya said. She said they are also planning to create open grass areas inside the park to increase the availability of foliage. "There are many such developmental plans but they are still being conceptualised," Karunapriya said.

Experts say that such problems are bound to happen as the park is located in the heart of the city. "There should be a plan of action to tackle problems like in-breeding and population explosion. Authorities should shift a few animals to other parks in the state and bring in some from other parks to encourage cross-breeding," a senior wildlife official said.

Source: Times of India

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