Published: 27th April 2018
Wildlife deaths on IIT Madras campus hit a new high of 99 in 2017
An RTI application was filed by animal welfare activist Antony C Rubin to the Forest Department. He also raised a suspicion that IIT-M has been under-reporting the deaths
The elite campus of IIT Madras, which is blessed with rich flora and fauna, is fast losing its unique identity. The wildlife deaths on the campus have touched a new high with 99 animals reported dead in 2017. In four months from November 2017 to February 2018, 46 animals died, including three endangered blackbucks.
The Forest Department revealed the information while replying to an RTI application filed by animal welfare activist Antony C Rubin. Of the total number of animal casualties, 82 were spotted deer, four black bucks, three jackals, one wild dog and nine monkeys.
These numbers are startling, considering the fact the IIT Madras has been issued a stern warning by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to take appropriate measures to minimise the wildlife deaths. To be fair, the institution did initiate some proactive measures to manage its solid waste like putting in place monkey proof bins, banning the use of plastic in packaging and beefing up sterilisation of stray dogs. But still, deer and blackbuck deaths seem to be increasing year after year.
Between 2013 and 2016, 220 deer and eight blackbucks died. On an average, 70 animals perish both due to natural and unnatural causes.
Rubin said that 99 animal deaths in a year were alarming. "The NGT in November warned the IIT-M of invoking the polluter pays principle if found guilty of negligence that resulted in injury or death of any deer or blackbuck. Since November, about 38 deer and three blackbucks have died, of which many are unnatural deaths. But since the NGT Bench is dysfunctional, it is becoming difficult to seek justice," Rubin added.
Rubin also raised a suspicion that IIT-M has been under-reporting the deaths. For instance, on July 19, 2017, a black buck fawn died and he asked a specific question about the incident in the RTI application. However, the Forest Department had no information on it.
When contacted, the IIT-M officials blamed the rising wildlife deaths on dogs and monkeys. "Dog menace is the biggest challenge the institute is facing in protecting the wildlife. Not a single fawn is able to survive. Dogs are hunting down the very young and mothers. Since the IIT-M is not a designated wildlife area like Guindy National Park, we cannot get rid of the dogs," said a senior official.
Fatalities since 2010 (Deer & blackbuck)
Cause Number of deaths
Dog bite 300
Road killing 60
Plastic consumption 50