The main reason for the death of more than 75 blackbucks in Sunday night’s rainstorm in Rajasthan's Tal Chhapar sanctuary was heart attack. The antelopes had rarely experienced such a thunderstorm and flooding in their habitat.
Surat Singh Poonia, district forest officer, confirmed, “We have conducted postmortems on about 40 deer and the reports suggest heart attack is the reason for their death.” The postmortem reports also pointed to two other reasons — extreme shock and drowning.
The deaths were followed by gloom in the villages of the Bishnoi community in the state. Residents of Sanwat Sar, a Bishnoi village nearby, even performed last rites for the departed souls of the animals.
The Bishnois, who live on the fringe of the Thar, have for centuries been conserving flora and fauna to the extent of sacrificing their lives to protect the environment. The basic tenet of this Vaishnavite sect is that all living beings have the right to live and share all resources.
“We can go to any extent to protect them (animals). But, we could not do much about this tragedy,” said local resident Mokhram Bishnoi.
The Bishnois also blamed the doctors and park authorities for responding slowly. Mokhram said, “We have sent a memorandum to CM Ashok Gehlot to make arrangements at Tal Chhapar.”
Poonia said, “We are planning to shift over 1,900 animals to a bigger place. We have written to the state government in this regard.”
A state forest department survey shows the sanctuary had 1,300 deer in 2003-04, and the number went up to 1,900 last year.