Deer Park Zoo has gone to the dogs. A canine trespasser there has mauled 29 protected black bucks, killing a project dear to the chief minister. It had an open invitation.
With the loss of 29 antlers, including 25 female bucks, most of which were pregnant, the dream of building a deer safari in Bathinda is dead. The investigating doctors blame a lone dog for the carnage.
Wild dogs enter the park with ease. The boundary wall shield is down, under construction as part of the safari project. On Thursday, a broken lock on the deer cage let the hunter near the prey.
Cage tampered with
Officials from the forest department have found signs of tampering on the cage. The killer sneaked in between 2am and 4am, and the doctors came to know at 10.30am.
The deer park is in Bathinda's Beer Talab forest area, just 5 km away from the city. The deputy commissioner made Dr Navneet Kaur lead a three-member medical team to the spot within two hours of the alarm.
Precious bucks are unguarded
The protected bucks aren't so protected after all. The absence of security guards, construction workers and other employees is also to blame for the incident. The district forest department has deployed a lone labourer to guard the site.
Veterinary doctors Navneet Kaur, Gurdeep Singh, and Daljit Singh found that the deer had died of shock at being mauled. An official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, accepted the shortage of workers. "More than 90%, the attack is because we are short of hands," the source said. "Everyday, drug addicts and common visitors fiddle with the cages."
Nearly 40 black bucks share the enclosure more than an acre long. "I gathered from the doctors that 25 of the deer died in a stampede when the dog sneaked into the cage," said district forest officer SP Anand. "Preliminary investigation suggests the cage was tampered with."
"Some organs of the deer such as the horns and skin are valuable indeed, but to us each buck is precious," said Anand. "In the park, we had more than 100 antlers before this strike."
'Shock, stampede killed most deer'
The autopsy report will be out by Friday, Dr Navneet Kaur, leader of the investigating team, has confirmed. "The evidence suggests a wild dog attacked the vital organs of five black bucks, while the rest of the parcel died of shock and haemorrhage because of stampede. Most of female bucks killed were pregnant."