Hungry strays hound zoo

What happened at Kanpur zoo last week, can happen at our prized Tata zoo tomorrow.

A pack of dogs barged into the Allen Forest Zoo in the industrial town of UP on Saturday, mauling to death 31 deer, including the endangered black buck. At Tata Steel Zoological Park in Jamshedpur, canine intrusion has been and is as menacing. In 2006, stray dogs had killed nine hog deer, but seven years on the zoo authorities have been able to do little to stem the attacks.

Security guards, on the condition of anonymity, said chasing dogs away had become a routine affair for them because the 92-acre zoo has a porous boundary. While vast swathes of the zoo oversees the Jayanti Sarovar and has no extra cover, the rest of it has a four-feet-high guard wall with wire mesh at only strategic places. Result: free entry for hungry dogs.

"Just two days ago, a pack had entered the premises. It took more than an hour to drive the dogs out. Chasing canines away has become our regular duty, which we do with diligence. But, it is next to impossible to force them to leave the zoo at night. One, it is dark. Two, they become more aggressive," said a zoo employee.

Another guard maintained that it was difficult to man all the entry points. "There are just too many. The only solution that comes to my mind is a higher boundary wall and more efficient lighting arrangements on the premises," he said.

Zoo director Bipul Chakravarty said they kept round-the-clock vigil, but in vain.

"Jayanti Sarovar is the main entry point. Dogs make their way into the zoo by swimming in the shallow waters of the lake. The lake is open on all sides and a large portion of it falls inside the zoo," he said.

On why the height of the boundary wall, especially that of the length along the Marine Drive, was not being raised, Chakravarty didn't have a satisfying answer. "We have installed chain links (a crude avatar of barbed wire) near the boundary. Even if the dogs scale the wall, they will not be able to cross this second tier of security," he insisted.

Seven years ago, a pack of dogs had scaled this very wall and attacked the hog deer enclosure at Tata zoo, which boasts 400-odd animals ' many of them endangered. Various species of deer such as the black buck, cheetal and sambar are easy prey for the untamed canines.

Not just by dogs, snakes too have breached the security at Jharkhand's most prestigious zoo. Last month, a white cobra had sneaked into the enclosure of the African lion cub quintet and attacked three of them. The trio were lucky to survive because the bite wasn't severe.

How can Tata zoo be protected from stray dogs?

Tell ttkhand@abpmail.com

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