It’s breeding season for black bucks and they are multiplying like, well, flies. Contraceptive pills, it seems, have not worked and frustrated Delhi Zoo authorities are now resorting to extreme measures. Castrating two black bucks has been their most recent effort to control the rising population of these antelopes. “We did this to see if we could control the sexual activity of these animals. But, this has led to other complications. They stopped shedding their horns and started experiencing cancerous growth that had to be operated upon, says director D.N. Singh, National Zoological Park.
Although segregation seems ideal for these herbivores, it is a tough task to isolate black bucks, owing to their sensitive nature. “At present, they are 66 in number. We have partially segregated them, but to control breeding, complete segregation is required,” says Singh.
Delhi zoo authorities have also had to castrate other animals like leopards, sambars and cheetals to control increased breeding. However, animals for which the Zoo has proper housing provisions are never abstained from mating. “Carnivores, being terrestrial in nature are easier to keep apart. But herbivores live in herds and hence it is antagonistic for them to inhabit in isolation,” Singh points out.
So the only solution that the Delhi Zoo authorities are left with is to expand the existing enclosures of black bucks. At present there are two enclosures covering a stretch of 5,000 and 2,500 square metres each. “We plan to double the existing area for black bucks in a few months, so as to keep their numbers in check,” confirms Singh. Or else, there is always an option of gifting a few antelopes to other sanctuaries of India.