Hyderabad: The much-touted mouse deer captive breeding programme at the Nehru Zoological Park is in limbo, with the second phase of the programme stuck without any progress for the last four years.
The captive breeding programme was started at the NZP in 2010 and was a success. However, though the animals that were bred as part of the programme were supposed to be released into the wild in 2013, the same has not been done so far.
“It has been four years since the mouse deer should have been in the wild. They’re still at the zoo and many of them have died already,” an official said. The lifespan of mouse deer is relatively short, with most living up to five or six years only.
The captive breeding of mouse deer at NZP started with just six deer (three male and three female), with the support of the Central Zoo Authority in March 2010.
The breeding programme was aimed at giving a boost to the dwindling number of mouse deer in the wild, officials said. “It started with three pairs of the species, which were brought from the Mangalore Zoo. And now, after six years, the number has increased to nearly 170,” they said.
According to him, the primary objective of the programme has been realised. However, the authorities are yet to release the animals into the wild.
“As soon as necessary facilities are provided at the location, animals will be released into the wild in batches. The department has identified the Mannanur Forest Range in the Amarabad Tiger Reserve for the release,” said Shivani Dogra, Curator, NZP.
“Officials at the Amarabad Tiger Reserve are constructing an enclosure for this purpose, which is spread over two hectares,” she said, adding that CCTV cameras were being installed inside the enclosure to monitor the animals.
According to officials, mouse deer cannot be released in the tiger reserve as it is dangerous for them. “Officials must look for a safe place for them as they are not habituated to living free in nature and they will become a game for other wild animals if precautions are not taken,” an official said.