Pune ornithologists and researchers have reported three successful incidents in which Chinkara fawns were rescued, examined, treated, and re-wilded during foaling season.
This was stated in ‘The Re-Wilding of Rescued Chinkara Gazella bennettii Fawns in Western Maharashtra’, which was published on September 28 in EC Veterinary Science, an international peer-reviewed open access journal.
Dr Satish Pande, Pune-based radiologist, ornithologist, and medical director of the Ela Transit Treatment Centre (ETTC) of Ela Foundation Pune, worked with a team of researchers and the state Forest Department to re-wild three Chinkara fawns by returning them to their parents.
The Indian Gazelle, or Chinkara, is an antelope endemic to the Indian subcontinent. It is protected by the Wildlife Protection Act, and is listed under Schedule 1. The foaling or delivery season falls twice a year, between March and July, and September and October.
Various threats to this antelope include habitat loss, human encroachment, getting snared in barbed wire fencing, falling in open wells, road traffic accidents, trapping, hunting, ingestion of pesticides and insecticides, and predation by stray dogs. Another threat is the enthusiasm in rescuing Chinkara fawns out of ignorance, when it is found on grasslands or scrublands,” Dr Pande, who is the main author of the paper, said.
All three incidents of the rescuing were successful, said Rahil Lonkar and Rajkumar Pawar, co-authors of the paper.
The rescued Chinkara fawns, like other ungulates, feign limping, refuse to stand and prefer to lie on the ground in the presence of humans. This can lead to the mistaken conclusion that they are paralysed or have weak legs. The fawns are often erroneously “rescued” and are then inadvertently deprived of parental care. Camera trap studies reveal they walk normally when there is no human present. Due to this, the authors kept the “rescued” fawns in the same place within 12 hours and monitored the outcome using trap cameras.
It was observed that the assumed parents approached the fawns and accepted them. The fawns were subsequently seen to be healthy, Dr Pande said. He added that this method is cheap and avoids ex-situ care humans, allowing these fawns to get their natural lives back. Hence, this is a simple conservation solution for fawns rescued erroneously by well-intentioned people, he said.
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