Drones to trace missing deers of Odisha sanctuary

Drone cameras will be used to locate the deers as it could be more fruitful, the official said. AFP File photo

The Odisha government on Tuesday decided to use drones to locate about 4,000 spotted deers who are missing from a sanctuary in Puri district following Cyclone Fani, an official said.

Most of the deers of the Balukhand-Konark sanctuary, which is spread over 72 square kilometres between Puri and Konark towns, could not be located after the extremely-severe cyclone made landfall in the coastal district at a speed of about 200 kmph on May 3, the official said.

"We could find only one carcass of a spotted deer so far after a thorough search inside the sanctuary. However, there is no trace of other animals," said A K Mohapatra, principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF), wildlife.

The deers generally come out of their hideouts at night in search of food, but the forest officials searched for the animals during daytime and could not find them, Mohapatra said.

Drone cameras will be used to locate the deers as it could be more fruitful, the official said.

"Since the carcass of only one deer is spotted, we believe that others are alive, though not noticed during the search in the daytime," Mohapatra said.

Forest officials said a large number of cashew trees in the sanctuary might have protected the deers. The sanctuary had been stripped of its rich flora by the cyclone.

The sanctuary acts as a buffer for the coastal areas from the high-velocity winds, but it had been completely destroyed, said Bhimsen Das, a forest officer.

The divisional forest officer had conducted a review meeting on Sunday to assess the damage and the next course of action. The sanctuary, where antelopes and jackals are also found, is now closed to the visitors. 

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