Published: 10th April 2018
Deer population is dwindling on Madras Christian College campus. No, it's not because of poaching
In the last decade, they are meeting painful deaths at the hands of a new animal climbing to the top of the food chain. Packs of stray dogs have slowly managed to eat into the deer population
Not long ago, herds of spotted deer were found grazing in the sports fields and crossing the silent roads on the 365-acre Madras Christian College campus at will. Today, deer sighting has become rare with just a few remaining rarely venturing out of the scrub jungle. The last internal deer census conducted a decade ago estimated that around 100 deer live on the college campus. However, a large section of the college fraternity fears that only less than half that number remain.
The spotted deer population in the college had blossomed since the early 1980s. With no natural predators, the deer became a part and parcel of the college campus. But, in the last decade, they are meeting painful deaths at the hands of a new animal climbing to the top of the food chain. Packs of stray dogs have slowly managed to eat into the deer population. Multiple eyewitnesses recollect incidents of stray dogs killing or seriously injuring deer after long chases. “Usually five or six dogs gang up on a baby deer (fawn) and manage to kill it. We try to stop it whenever we can,” said a senior professor residing on campus. Students say they have witnessed dogs feeding on deer carcasses on the college campus between 2011 and 2013.
The college had faced a lot of heat for the stray dog menace in 2014 when a student died after contracting rabies from a stray puppy in the college. They cracked down heavily on dogs by deporting dogs from campus in a bid to ensure safety of its students and staff. “The college took measures to remove the dogs from the college with the help of an NGO and ensured that new strays don’t enter the campus,” said R W Alexander Jesudasan, Principal. He agrees that the stray dog menace on the college campus, in view of the dwindling deer population, has to be dealt with.
However, with dog numbers on the rise despite measures, college staff across grades fear that more deer will die in the summer. “When the college closes for summer, they don’t get the excess food from the canteens and there is an increase in killings. The sparsely populated college campus becomes their hunting ground, “ said a former professor, who lived many years on campus. Some workers in the college claim that these deer are quickly buried in the college and the matter is hushed up. The forest department has also confirmed they have no data about the deer at MCC “The department only keeps track of areas notified as reserve forests,” said a local forest range officer.