Re-introduction of Spotted Deer and Sambar in Jaisamand Wildlife Sanctuary: A case study


Jaisamand wildlife Sanctuary is situated around fifty kms away from Udaipur city.

Jaisamand Sanctuary    

The sanctuary was notified in the year 1955 and has an area of about 50 sq. kms. This area was the games reserve for the erstwhile rulers of Mewar State moreover the annual tiger shooting by the Maharana of Mewar used to start from this reserve. The area being the games reserve was rich in Wildlife, which included Tiger, Panther, Hyena, Wolf, Jackal, Jungle cat, Wild Boar, Chinkara, Sambar, Spotted deer and other animals.

Post-independence, due to several reasons, the rich wildlife of this reserve saw an alarming decline with the top predator, Tiger, getting exterminated from this area and over a period the ungulate population too reduced with the result that Sambar and Chital got totally exterminated and only few Chinkaras and Blue Bulls were left.

Reasons for the decline in the Wildlife:

The major reasons that can be attributed to decline in Wildlife populations are:-

  1. With the merger of the Princely states, the strong control over the hunting was relaxed and indiscriminate hunting permits were issued. Also rampant illegal hunting was a major cause. Hunting ethics were also not followed
  2. Poaching
  3. Tree felling for timber and fuel wood
  4. Illegal grazing
  5. Forest fires
  6. Invasion of Prosopis juliflora (Vilayati Babul) on Grass lands
  7. The area was under the control of territorial division and hence not much attention was given on Wildlife management

Management intervention done prior to re-introduction of extinct herbivore species

The Wildlife (Protection) Act came into force in the year 1972 and hunting was totally prohibited. With the creation of Wildlife wing, the management of sanctuaries came under direct supervision of Wildlife wing and thus emphasis was given on Wildlife management.

With effective patrolling and creation of chokies, barriers and entry gates, poaching and illegal hunting declined.

The Joint Forest Management Policy was instrumental in bringing in local communities for Forest and Wildlife protection through formation of Eco Development Committees [EDC].

With the starting of NREGA program, large scale pucca boundary walls were constructed on the periphery of sanctuary boundaries, thereby checking illegal grazing, encroachment and forest fires.

The large scale extraction and removal of Prosopis Juliflora was taken up and grasslands were restored by seeding as well as by extracted grass slip block planting during rainy season.

Modus operandi

Two herbivore species namely, Chital and Sambar, which got exterminated from this protected area, were shortlisted for species recovery plan.

Surplus animals from various Zoos and Delhi Golf Club were to be transported following Central Zoo Authority directions and guidelines. The animals had to be kept in quarantine for 21 days before releasing them in the wild.

Hence a relocation and rehabilitation enclosures was created at Dimda Bagh, right in the sanctuary which could house the trans located animals for 21 days. As the sanctuary has a good number of Wild Panther population, the Zoo animals have to be safe guarded against Panther predation. Accordingly, Panther proofing was done in this relocation centre created at Dimda Bagh.

Panther Proof Relocation centre:  Dimda Bagh

Water holes were created for the shifted deer and wallowing area was created inside the relocation centre for Sambars. Two months before shifting of the animals, green fodder was also grown in the patches. The enclosure had lot of bushes to hide and rubbing their antlers and numerous shade and fruit trees.

The Reintroduction

  1. Spotted Deer

Having satisfied with the ground preparations, it was decided to initially reintroduce spotted deer, as they were available in Shikarbadi Mini Zoo at Udaipur, which was about 50 kms away from the relocation centre. The CZA ordered to close the Shikarbadi Mini Zoo and thus the animals present there had to be trans located. Thus Jaisamand was the first choice for shifting the animals.

Necessary sanctions were taken from CZA to translocate the spotted deers from Shikarbadi Mini Zoo to Jaisamand sanctuary .The 21 day quarantine was one of the stipulated condition imposed by the sanction.

On 2nd September 2014, 18 spotted deer (10 males and 8 females) were chemically captured from Shikarbadi Mini Zoo to avoid all sorts of stresses, under the supervision of departmental veterinary officer and were shifted by official canters to Dimda Bagh relocation centre, Jaisamand sanctuary. All the animals were safely Trans located and there was no casualty.

Spotted Deers being quarantined  

The animals were kept under constant watch although utmost care was taken to minimize human imprinting.

For a week, the same diet of green fodder was given to the deer as they were fed in the zoo. Gradually, fodder available in the sanctuary was supplemented in their feed and eventually after 15 days, the fodder available from the sanctuary area became their main diet.

During these 21 days, these zoo bred animals became accustomed to the new environment and natural alarm calls. Moreover herd behaviour also developed in the shifted animals.

After completing the quarantine period, the animals were tested for zoonotic diseases and after complete satisfaction; they were released in the wild. During night time, being habitual of electric light, some of them moved towards villages situated towards western edge of the sanctuary. To retain them inside, few lanterns were during night time on the roof of one building of Dimda Bagh relocation centre. This device proved fruitful and no further outward movement was noticed. After practicing it for next ten days, it was also stopped.

Spotted deer in the sanctuary  

Proper monitoring and protection was carried out after the release and the results were encouraging. The water hole census carried out by the department from 2010 to 2014 showed no presence of spotted deer whereas the census figures for 2018 and 2019 showed the presence of 32 spotted deer in the sanctuary.

  •  Sambar reintroduction

The successful reintroduction of spotted deer paved way for yet another endeavour for another important species recovery program and that was Sambar. Once Sambars used to be the main prey for the tigers in the Sanctuary but over the period both the species got exterminated from this region. The annual water hole census data since 2009 showed no presence of Sambars in the sanctuary.

I, myself had been visiting the sanctuary since 1984 on official visits but their presence was never realised.

With same protocols, procedure and sanctions, 5 Sambars (2 males and 3 females) were brought from the Delhi Golf Course [DGC], nearly 700 kms away to Dimda Bagh relocation centre. In this case, the animals were immobilised by darting under Veterinary supervision and then meticulously trans located following the CZA guidelines.

These five animals were transported in batches from 30th April 2017 to 7th May 2017 from the DGC. After quarantining for 21 days, they were released in the Wild.

Similarly 10 Sambars (3 males and 7 females) were transported on 11th May 2019 and 8 Sambars (3 males and 5 females) were transported on 18th May 2019 from Delhi Zoo to Dimda Bagh relocation centre.

Translocation of Sambars  
Sambars being quarantined  

They too were released in the wild after completing protocol of quarantine period.

As per the reports from Range Forest Officer (Jaisamand Sanctuary), two herds of 15-16 Sambars with two new borns are sighted regularly in the wild.

It is important to mention that, as per 2019 water hole census, 13 Panthers are reported in Jaisamand Wildlife Sanctuary. This indicates that Sambars have acclimatised themselves well in the new surroundings and thus the Reintroduction is successful.  The water hole census for the year 2020 is scheduled for 5th June 2020 and this will provide an accurate status of Sambar population.

Sambars in the sanctuary  
New Born Sambar in the sanctuary