KENDRAPARA: As water bodies dry up in the scorching heat this summer, the deer and wild boar at the Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary in Kendrapara district are being forced to foray into human habitations in search of fresh water.
With fresh water sources like ponds inside the national park drying up in the intense heat, the animals have started to stray into the bordering villages in order to quench their thirst.
But, in the process, they also damage crops and vegetables in the village farms that surround the sanctuary, provoking villagers to trap them.
Kedar Kumar Swain, Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division, confirmed the drying up of fresh water sources, but said the situation was not that alarming yet.
"Fresh water sources in the habitation corridors of deer have dried up in some patches, but the situation is yet to assume an alarming proportion," he said.
To address the situation, forest authorities have dug more than 30 fresh water ponds in specific mangrove zones, Swain said.
Normally, deer can stay hydrated without need for fresh water for a considerable period as they make do with the moisture contained in leaves and shrubs which they feed on, he said.
The prolonged heat wave this year, however, has seen their capacity to go without fresh water being stretched to the limit, forest officials say.
The forest department has, meanwhile, intensified its vigil against the poaching of deer and wild boar.
Although no official census of deer has been undertaken, forest officials said that the Bhitarkanika National Park is home to an estimated 5,000 deer.