KARACHI: With 17 recent births, the number of wild goats, sheep, deer, antelopes and llamas has risen to more than 190 at the Safari Park.
All babies, according to the staff, are healthy and living well with their parents. Herds of mouflon and urial, both subspecies of wild sheep, increased their numbers to four and 10 with two and four births each.
The black bucks, an Indian antelope species, the Sindh ibex, a goat species, and llama, a South American member of the camel family, have two, three and one births, respectively.
A delicate, shy species with few defences, the spotted deer, or cheetal, has had the highest number of births so far, that is, five.
“Having a total of 60 and 70 members, the black bucks and the spotted deer constitute the largest herds at the Safari,” additional director of Safari Park Dr Kazim Hussain said, adding that the number of Sindh ibex and urial had also grown to 19 and 14, respectively, this year.
Both spotted deer and black bucks, according to the Safari staff, breed thrice in two years. The reproduction time for red deer, white fallow deer and fallow deer is between the end of May to July.
Currently, the facility has a total of 290 mammals including 17 nilgai.
“As far as reproduction is concerned, the biggest challenge Safari faces is animals’ increased vulnerability to disease and deformity owing to high in-breeding, a major threat to the survival of captive animals,” an official said.
Most animals in the herds of red deer, white fallow dear, mouflon, black backs, nilgai and spotted deer belonged to the species brought here during the 1990s. The facility desperately needs fresh blood for genetic diversity and improved animal breeding, though there have been small initiatives for animal exchange.
The facility, sources said, has not received any funds for repair and maintenance, and procurement, excluding the amount allocated for animal feed and veterinary medicines, for the past two years.
Published in Dawn, March 11th, 2018