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Post cyclone Fani, drones to trace missing deer of Balukhand-Konark sanctuary

Bhubaneswar: In an unprecedented move, the Odisha government will now use drones to trace about 4,000 spotted deer who are missing from Balukhand-Konark sanctuary in Puri district following extremely severe cyclone Fani which left a trail of devastation in coastal areas of the State.

Post Fani’s landfall on May 3, most of the deer of the sanctuary, which is spread over 72 square kilometres between Puri and Konark, could not be located.

“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.

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The deer 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 deer 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 daytime,” Mohapatra said.

Forest officials said large number of cashew trees in the sanctuary might have protected the deer. 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.

(With PTI inputs)

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