Monday, February 26, 2007


Inside one of the country’s most prestigious institutions of technical education – death is not a very uncommon occurrence. The blackbuck population inside the forests of IIT-Madras has come down to almost 12 and the population of spotted deer hovers around 150.
“The spanking new Himalaya mess has come up on Black buck habitation. There was no real need for that. They could’ve just had smaller messes around the different blocks”, says one concerned insider at IIT. Another lady says, “They came up with this crazy idea of making laws with Korean grass. That’s not what deer eat! Also, there is so much construction debris lying around that the animals are getting injured and dying.”

Feral dogs are another menace inside IIT and they have killed quite a few spotted deer. But the wildlife department officials seem unconcerned about this and are cooking up , what to me sound like excuses. Ashish Shrivastava, one of the wildlife officers says, “If we try to remove the feral dogs some people protest saying the dogs are their pets and we should not remove them.” Pursue the point further by suggesting that they are afterall the wildlife department and can’t be held hostage to peoples pet fancies, he has no answers.

Removing these animals to the neighboring Guindy National Park is not a solution because black bucks have such weak hearts and are so timid that they cannot survive such an upheaval.

(I have since updated this blog with a more informed opinion.)


Sathej said...

True,the Himalaya mess was not indispensable.And the authorities,well,they give excuses as usual.But,the photos that you show of the deaths are most likely caused by speeding vehicles.This has to be addressed by educating residents and visitors alike.The solution to the problem has to be a multi pronged approach.The students are helping in as much a way as they can,through Green Earth Group and Wildlife Club.They collect wastes(like plastics) lying around.But,the construction activities are to an extent unavoidable for such an educational institution and reservation will not help things.What is more important is the authorities must come out with a definite scheme to save the black bucks.

Nandhu said...

are these photographs new?

rohan said...

The deer could be tranquilised and brought to the reserve forest are near Vandalur, and policing increased there.

Vinod Khare said...

The situation is same at IITK also. At one time we had a lot of monkeys. Now they have been chased aways. We have neel-gay. They have been forced to recede to a very small areas now. Several dead porcupines have been encountered. Snakes are killed left right and centre.

Nandz said...

@Vinod: I'm not too sympathetic with the monkeys. There were and will always be a menace. And it's not like they are "wildlife"! We don't have orang-utans or somethings roaming around the campus. Just your regular destructive monkeys.

Revanta said...

Is it really fair to expect an educational institution to focus on preserving the wildlife in its campus area? The solution really might be to relocate some of the fauna as quickly as possible. It's unfortunate, but clear that animals can only be safe - with a greater probability - in protected wildlife areas.

Sunil said...

alaphia.....a very good post. I always thought the deer could live quite happily on campus, with only small measures taken to keep them happy. And a classic example of what happens when you don't care about them at all is right opposite IITM, on the Anna U & CLRI campus. When I was a student there, we had deer (though far fewer than IITM). There were even a couple that unfortunately died (near the ACtech hostel, thanks to some feral dogs). But now there are none.

Simple solutions that would help the deer would be to avoid using Korean lawn grass, leaving sections with unpaved trails, avoiding loud-speakers on most sections of campus, building a few tanks with water in them around campus, and moving out the feral dogs. Most students don't mind the deer. And it will be a really nice example of what can be possible in a University.

Alaphia said...

Hi Sathej,
I understand that the IIT authorities are trying to do something about it. They hired a panel of experts who came out with the report... (the link you gave me.) Apparently, IIT is unnaturally wooded while black buck need open grassland .. so thats also a bit of a problem. . . but atleast someone at the top cares.

Hi Nandu,
To be honest, I'm not sure how old or new these photographs are. They were given to me by my "source". I have been trying to reach him to find out when he took them but is not reachable.

Rohan - I asked a naturalist about this but she said the chances of survival are 50-50. Which is actually to say that while people fear that the animals could die they could well live but its not a risk they are trying to take at this juncture.

Vinod - thanks for that input. Didn't know that. Though in this case spotted deer would not be considered endangered.

Hi Revanta,
I think its totally fair that you try to protect the species that exist on your campus. That should be the approach otherwise we'll just end up building a steel and concrete jungle. Of course you can question the initial short-sighted move of placing an educational institution in black buck habitat.

Hi Sunil,
Thanks. Yes small things can go a long way in preserving the bio-diversity of the IIT campus. But if the post sounded very anti-IIT, I can say that authorities are concerned about the same questions raised here.

AZAM said...

There is the Animal Welfare Board of India headquartered in Chennai.

Perhaps it could be of some assistance as the board has been constructed with the sole purpose of looking after issues involving animals and help them as well as the human beings to a healthy co-existence.

Also I wonder why the forest department is so ignorant of such a serious issue so is the IIT management. Had this been the case with a leopard or a tiger inside the campus, just how would they have reacted then?

Either you work out a solution or shut shops !

Azam Siddiqui

Rajkumar said...

ya i feel that the report is true and requires a lot of attention and concern,me a student of iitm feel not much action is take against this,we have speedy buses plying around dogs hunting during nights and above all as the student population and staff population has increased wild animals are forced to take a back seat