Hog deer is facing the prospect of extinction in the Corbett National Park, which is among the best habitats for tigers. From thousands in the early 1960s, their number is now estimated to be fewer than 50, as the ecosystem of the park has been altered to sustain the population of tigers, elephants and chitals.
“We continue to burn the chaurs (Chaur is typically a plain area atop a hill) regularly, gradually turning the terrain more suitable for chital and for viewing of wildlife, including elephants. I regret having to say this, but I do believe that we have managed the chaurs of Corbett for tourists, for elephants and for the chital,” said M.K. Ranjitsingh, chairperson of Wildlife Trust of India, in a note presented at the last meeting of Standing Committee of National Board for Wildlife.
“The net result is that the prolific and once ubiquitous hog deer, which cannot adapt to closed forest habitats, is now on the verge of extinction.” Corbett officials say they don’t have any confirmed figure on the hog deer population.
Hog deer numbers have declined in north India, but they have survived the human onslaught in the Kaziranga National Park in Assam, which has huge grasslands — a must for the animal to survive.
Corbett turned a disaster zone for hog deer after the Ramganga Dam was constructed, a few years ago. “The flooding of grasslands meant permanent loss of their habitat and they were pushed into the upper chaurs, which are now devoid of their natural grasslands,” Ranjitsingh said.
Ranjitsingh has asked the environment ministry to start a grassland revival plan for the Park. Environment minister Jairam Ramesh has directed ministry officials to work out a plan to save the hog deers.