Nature is a strange and ever-circling ecosystem of wildlife, plants, insects, grasshoppers, and a variety of other living and nonliving aspects. Humans too fall here and lie in the middle of the environment. Both nature and human beings are a complement to each other. If we address it more precisely, the truth is that nature can sustain itself independently but not humans. Though we considered ourselves at the top of this network it is not the case, and the recent pandemic has made us clearer about this. We are in nature as the other creatures are. Here we need to be for each other. I am writing about releasing of barking deer into its wild habitat (Nature). A few months ago, the District Police Office, Charikot has found an infant deer calf without mother. For further care and rehabilitation of calf, the District Police Office Charikot handed it over to Divisional Forest Office (DFO) Charikot. Then after it was the job of DFO to take care of it. The calf was nurtured with about 2 liters of cow’s milk on a daily basis. As time passed on douse of milk increased and the infant deer grew bigger. After then it started to feed on tender grass leaves. Along with the growing deer encouragement of DFO officials were also increasing and they really enjoyed watching the deer. But now the deer has grown almost to its full potential and difficulties came in taking care of it. After 5 months, it was decided to release the deer into a nearby forest area. Discussions were made on where to release it and it was decided to release it to the nearby forest area of DFO. However, they couldn’t release on their desired location as the environmental conditions there were not perfect. Again, the discussions went on and they consulted with Gaurishankar Conservation Area Project. which lies in the north part of the same district.

Accordingly, the deer arrived at Gaurishankar Conservation Area Project, Singati Office. The deer was so strong that it needed 5/6 persons to put it inside the cage. Anyway, the deer was put in cage rightly. As the deer was well grown up its was decided to release into wild the next day. The main task was to find an appropriate habitat for it. Hence, a proper habitat was identified in Bigu RM-4, Laduk, Giddhe Salleri Conservation Forest which has the desired facility of the water source, grass, shrubs, trees, and evidence of existing habitat of deer was also confirmed from barking sound of deer. Thus, it was decided to release it into the same forest.

The next day as per the advice we (Officials of GCAP, a representative for Kalinchok Sub-DFO, officials of Area Police office, Singati and Chairperson of Conservation Forest User Group (CFUN), Dolakha) headed towards the desired location in office vehicle with the deer inside the cage. After driving about 5 km we stopped the vehicle as we noticed a narrow way to enter inside the forest. As the deer was very strong and energetic it was carefully caught, taken out of the cage, and carried out to the forest.

While carrying it upwards the sleeper legs of the deer tortured a lot to handlers and according to them, it was the most tedious task they have ever done. As per rules and regulations, the legal paper was prepared with signatures of several officials. Several photographs were being taken and Chairman of CFUN went a little bit closer to take the photo after releasing the deer. While doing so, the deer overtook him and descended downwards. Later he was commenting that the back leg of the deer hurts more than the front. Meanwhile, the deer was so quick that it went down to the road in a blink of an eye. It followed the same path we came and there was no chance that we could catch it, so we too followed the deer. After following it for some period of time it went so far form us that we could just only guess. Some people were coming from the opposite direction to deer and the deer again changed its direction and sprinted towards us. Now the deer was an in-between a group of people on both sides and we wanted that it could descend downwards towards riverside but it went upwards which is a big patch of landslide area with steep topography. The condition was so awkward that neither the deer could step upwards towards the forest area nor we could step upwards to catch it. We went for a while downwards watching the movement of the deer and as no movement was seen form the deer, one of us was decided to go to the landside zone. At first, Mr. Ramesh Adihikari went up, couldn’t do it and after that, I (Shankar Thami) went. As I stepped upwards the deer too did the same and now the conditions were more challenging. Along with me Mr. Dudh Bahadur Lopchan (Police official) also came up along with a stick. He also tried well but couldn’t make it. The deer too was now confused, tried to descend but couldn’t. We were in search of rope so that we can place it on the deer’s neck and pull it towards us. We searched around for it but didn’t find anything. No one else would find a rope in steep landslide area but we were searching it as we were fools. I got an idea, extracted lace of my trouser made it into the desired shape with a circle at one end. This was now used with a stick brought up by Dudh Bahadur and was placed inside the deer’s neck.

Rescuing from the landslide

After that Dudh Baddur pulled it and we too caught it tightly so that it couldn’t escape. We were handling the deer in such terrain that; a little mistake would have placed us down to hit the road badly. Meanwhile, Ramesh brought up small piece of cloth (Sal; used by girls with Kurtha) from the sisters who were looking form downwards. The deer was tied in such a way that, it resembled goat tied with rope. While bringing it down towards the road, the deer again managed to escape as its sleeper legs helped it. It again started to roam here and there and this time finally it went downwards. Mr. Karan Yadav was stationed downwards and he followed the deer maintaining distance to track where has it reached downwards. He followed and ensured that the deer moved the downward forest area in between road and river. Everyone was exhausted. We came to the office, had launched and reported to the chief. The project chief said that boys, it is never easy to work with wildlife, you all have tried all your best to be cool now. Those words from him satisfied us.

It was 2 o’clock in the afternoon. The project chief told us to monitor the area where we released the deer in the morning. So, we again went to the same place for monitoring. After reaching that place, four of us scattered in different directions. I watched it here and there, reached the river but couldn’t find it. I came to know that it was again found by Karan. The deer tried to came to him but was scared. He noticed it was at the same place, from where it disappeared in the morning. But this time the condition was a bit critical, the deer was caught again, placed on the roadside, and made to sleep on the lap of Mr. Janak Neupane. The deer began to weep so badly with accelerated breathing. In the meantime, Mr. Niranjan Thapa also arrived at the spot form the fieldwork, Karan joined him to bring some water for the deer. Both went to get water and was bough in two bottles. Janak precisely poured water inside the mouth and I helped with my palm for doing so. As the deer was so trusty it drank almost all water. We informed the chief about the situation and as per the advice we planned to release it again after some time. This time we have learned lessons from the morning event, thus we covered its eyes with a strip of cloth so that the deer couldn’t track our way back and also it was carried out in sack with a head part outside. Karan showed some strength and carried it on his back. This time we took more upwards than in the morning, a large meadow was seen with all desired expected habitat conditions. Karan kept the deer there an removed the sack gently. The deer didn’t get up and refused to go away from us. We were morally down as we thought something has happened to the deer. One of us worshipped to forest goddess, saying hey the goddess of the forest we have brought up the property of yours to you please handle it carefully, give it shelter, and it all yours. Then the deer jumped up, crushed the ground with legs, fluttered the ears, flew away and disappeared. While the deer performed all these actions, I thought he is giving thanks for releasing her to the native homeland and saying goodbye to us by flickering the ears.

The next morning, we again went to same place to monitor the place again. Searched here and there but didn’t found the deer this time rather we observed footprints, pallet. Now we confirmed that it can survived in the natural environment adapting all the wild features.

Original Story writer: Shankar Man Thami, English translator: Karan Yadav, both are Natural Resource Conservation Assistant of Gaurishankar Conservation Area Project.  

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