Harishankar park a death trap for deer; will this happen in Nandankanan?
BALANGIR: Come summer and Harishankar deer park in the district turns into a hell hole for its inhabitants. Nine deer have died this season in the park so far due to dehydration and alleged malnutrition. The forest department, which is in charge of the deer park, a tourist hotspot, has been oblivious to the plight of the hapless animals living in miserable conditions.
Almost every year there are reports of deer deaths in the park, which shoots up during summer. In 2007 seven deer reportedly died due to pneumonia. Seven more had died in 2004-05. Between 2008 and 2009, there were reports of five deer deaths due to malnutrition, while in 2010 and 2011, 11 deer died due to poor hygienic conditions in the park. Investigation by the forest department later revealed that one deer died due to old age while others died young due to lack of health care and proper nutrition. In the last five years altogether 39 deer have died in the park.
The Harisankar deer park, set up in 1971 on 1.50 acre land with just eight deer, now resembles an abandoned cattle house. “It is unfortunate that the park could neither be saved nor revived though the local MLA was twice minister of tourism,” said Jhasketan Naik of Khaprakhol.
According to sources, the government provides only 1.60 kg of fodder for 197 deer in the park per day, which is much less than the requirement. The deer are provided leaves and branches from the Gandhamardan forest to meet their food requirement.
Balangir divisional forest officer (DFO) Abhiram Naik admitted that the park is too small to accommodate about two hundred animals. “We have written to authorities to take half of the deer to other places,” the DFO said.
He said every year the state government provides only Rs 2 lakhs for the park, which is not sufficient. “The park is running only on state government aid as central government has not granted park status to the Harisankar park,” the DFO said.