Jaipur: Rajasthan`s scorching summer is taking its toll, and not just on people wilting in the heat. With water drying up in ponds and reservoirs across Rajasthan, there are alarming reports of monkeys, chinkaras and cheetal deer dying as they stray out of their habitat into nearby villages.
In the last three days at least 13 monkeys have died because of water scarcity in the last three days in Shahabad in Baran district, close to the famous Ranthambore National Park, about 230 km from here.
"Monkeys from nearby forest areas are coming here searching for water. In the last three days, 13 monkeys have died near the area," Ramesh, who lives near the Tapaswi Ji Ki Bageehci area of Shahabad town, told.
Similar reports have come in from the border district of Barmer where various species of deer are commonly found. As many as 22 chinkaras, or gazelles, died of dehydration after they were unable to find drinking water.
"Rajasthan`s forest department has failed to take care of the wild animals. Over 22 chinkaras have died due to water scarcity in Barmer and reports coming in from other parts of Rajasthan also indicate deaths of animals due to water shortage," said Naresh Kadyan, representative of the NGO International Organisation for Animal Protection in India.
He said urgent steps were required to save these animals.
There have also been reports of cheetals, the Indian spotted deer, dying in a forest in Chittorgarh district over the last few days.
"Eleven cheetals have died in a small forest near Chittorgarh fort in the last five-seven days," added Babulal Jaju, in-charge of the NGO People for Animals (PFA) in Rajasthan.
He has written a letter to union Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh, requesting him to institute an inquiry into the cause of animal deaths so that this problem does not occur in the future.
He said the state government should make proper arrangements for water in the areas where these animals live.
Soaring temperatures have made water so hard to come by in Rajasthan`s sanctuaries that wild animals are straying into nearby villages in search for it and migratory birds are giving the area a miss.
India`s desert state boasts of two tiger projects, one bird sanctuary and 25 wildlife sanctuaries. These protected areas offer great eco-tourism opportunities for both domestic and foreign tourists.
Animal rights activists are not fully convinced with the forest department`s plan for supplying water through tankers and tubewells.
"Some of the wildlife reserves and parks are facing an acute water shortage this summer," Jaju said.
He said measures adopted by the state government were few.
Due to the heat wave, several small water reservoirs have become parched while others are on the brink of drying up.
"Can water by tankers ease the crisis? The animals need water not only for drinking but also for playing and bathing. The state government should have tried to make arrangements earlier and in a much better way so that these wild animals do not suffer," Jaju said.