A female Nilgai (Blue Cow) died under tragic circumstances in Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens (City Zoo) here after being trapped by flowing rain water from Karanji Lake following last night's heavy rains. Several animal enclosures were flooded after the deluge which increased the water level at the Lake.

The aged and ailing animal, suffering from a variety of breathing problems, had been trapped by the rising waters from the nearby Karanji Lake that overflows into the Mysore Zoo.

Another male Nilgai, which was seen floundering in the slushy water, was, however, rescued. The remaining 75 Nilgai escaped unscathed.

Zoo officials led by the Zoo Executive Director K. B. Markandaiah, Dy. Director Vijay Kumar, Zoo Vet Dr. Chandrashekar, Range Forest Officer Bidari, Crocodile-keepers Manjunath and Selvaraj and other assistant keepers spent the whole night trying to take care of the animals. The water-logged areas were also being drained.

The overflowing water from the clogged discharge channel of Karanji Lake led to the flooding of the Zoo. But this is not a new occurrence. It has happened earlier in 2005 when several animals and birds lost their lives. It had even occurred with more devastating effects in 1993. But till today nothing has been done to prevent the excess flow of water from the Lake.

According to Zoo-keepers, who were on duty late last night, the force of the gushing water was such that the high fence in several areas meant to protect the animals were of no avail. Even the water level in various enclosures including that of the reptiles housing crocodiles and alligators had risen to alarming levels even as the Zoo-keepers struggled to clear the clogged channels. The rising water also led to three crocodiles making a break for freedom and all three of them were captured on Sidharthanagar main road close to Karanji Kere.

Several mallards and geese also used the rising water to swim out of their pens but did not move away and were easily herded back to their pens.

The hyena enclosure presen-ted another sad spectacle as two of them were seen struggling in the slush trying to stay dry.

Blame game: Meanwhile the Zoo authorities blamed the Mysore City Corporation (MCC) for the surging of rain water from the Lake into the Zoo. They said that the UGD and storm water drain from the nearby layout is let out into the Lake and the place where the water enters the Lake is a giant water filled garbage area with pollutants of every kind. They said that the negligence of the MCC in not keeping the UGD free from pollutants could seriously harm the health of the birds and animals.

The Zoo authorities also blamed the MCC saying that it was their job to see the drainage water is diverted from the Lake. There is an Asian Development Bank (ADB) funding that has been specifically allocated for this purpose and the MCC is doing nothing about it, they said.

One of the officials, on conditions of anonymity, claimed that the development of Siddar-thanagar and the new layout in the filled-in portion are the cause for the flooding of the Zoo during rains. He suggested that instead of the MCC trying to blame the Zoo, they should instead use part of the ADB funds to set up a water treatment plant at Karanji Lake. This would have a salutary effect on the aquatic life of the Lake and also make the water clean for use in Zoo.

When SOM tried to contact MCC Commissioner K. S. Raikar in this regard, he was not ans-wering the calls. Mayor Sandesh Swamy, while condoling the death of Nilgai, felt that serious efforts should be made to solve this problem once and for all.

Meanwhile, the tractor that had been brought in to remove the carcass of the dead Nilgai got bogged down in slush and attempts were being made to extricate it.

Preventive steps

Much more than the rain itself, the danger of birds and animals being infected by water-borne infections is all too serious to be ignored by the Zoo authorities. The Zoo vets had planned a regimen of giving nutrient supplements to prevent diseases. All animals would be vaccinated and special vitamins and minerals provided as they are suffering from extreme stress.

More rains predicted

More rains are predicted for the next couple of days with cloudy weather throughout the day, according to the Weather Department. Speaking to SOM this morning, Meteorology Officer Gautham Bharadwaj said this was not unusual. "These rains are a precursor to winter," he said.

Courtesy : Star Of Mysore