Poachers using urea to kill wildlife around MM Hills

The forest department, which has launched a drive to remove snares around Nagarahole Tiger Reserve, has detected incidents of poisoning wild animals in Male Mahadeshwara wildlife sanctuary.

Recently, in Nakkundi village inside Hoogyam range of MM Hills, a couple of dogs dragged a skull of a sambar deer. Postmortem reports and preliminary investigations by the forest department revealed that the death was because of urea poisoning.

According to conservationists and locals, farmers in areas surrounding MM Hills and Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary (CWS) are using urea as fertiliser, because it is easily available at subsidised rates. Due to this, the water bodies in these areas are contaminated. With summer fast approaching and only a few pockets of standing water available, poisoning of such waterholes can prove to be a disaster not only to wildlife but also to livestock, several of which have been reportedly killed by drinking poisoned water in this region.

“Urea, when added to water, is colourless, odourless and easily soluble. The mild smell of ammonia liberated alone gives away the addition of this lethal chemical to water. Drinking water saturated with urea increases blood ammonia levels and causes death due to poisoning almost immediately,” said a ground forest official from CWS.

Poachers have resorted to using this readily available fertiliser to hunt wild ungulates in these places. This incident came to light only after poachers left behind the head of the poached animal and the dogs accidentally dragged the carcass to the village.

The two wildlife sanctuaries together form a large contiguous protected area in Karnataka. These sanctuaries have the potential to see a resurgence of the tiger but it is sad that its prey like deer and sambar deer are facing a threat, said Shankar, a conservationist.

Malathi Priya, deputy conservator of forests, MM Hills, said she was not aware of any death in the recent past and cases pertaining to earlier deaths were being investigated.
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