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Nilgai strays into North Block area, rescued

The high-security North Block area near Parliament had an unusual visitor, a Nilgai, which was rescued in the afternoon.

Nilgai strays into North Block area, rescued
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The stray nilgai calf that was running frenzied near the Parliament House being rescued

New Delhi

The Nilgai, suspected to have strayed from Central Forest Reserve Area located on the backside of the President's Estate, was first spotted during early hours of the day and rescued around 2:15 PM, state forest department officials said.

As soon as the Nilgai was spotted, a police team was rushed to the area, where VVIP movement was to start in a while. The blue bull was seen running and a PCR van was tasked with chasing it towards the lawns there.

While the van was about to take a sharp turn, the Nilgai suddenly ran towards it and hit the vehicle on the driver's side. The impact led to a broken window glass and injury to the Nilgai.

The wildlife officials said the female adult blue bull has sustained injuries on her legs and the wounds are being treated by the department.

"She (the Nilgai) has some injuries on her legs. As per initial report, it seems that she had come from Central Forest Reserve Area located on the backside of the President Estate," Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden, A K Shukla, said.

On the time taken in rescue effort, Shukla said the Nilgai has a "very delicate heart" and therefore, it cannot be chased back to the forest and "had to be rescued".

"The Nilgai was tactfully cornered and then slowly taken into confidence. After medical recovery, it will be sent to Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary here," the officer added.

The officer further said the department is yet to ascertain her age and whether the animal is pregnant or not.

According to Forest Department, it received a call about the presence of the animal in the VVIP zone around 10 AM following which teams were rushed to the spot for rescue operation.

The NGO, Wildlife SOS, had also deployed its 10-member team to rescue the animal.

"The Nilgai has been successfully rescued by #WildlfeSOS from #Vijaychowk," the NGO tweeted after the rescue work was over.

Left perplexed by the animal's entry into the area during VVIP movement hours in the morning, police said they took all care to ensure it was not harmed or stray on road.

"We made sure the animal was not harmed while it was being rescued. We also ensured it did not come on the road in view of VVIP movement there and called up forest department officials to rescue the animal," a senior police official said.

Once the alarm was raised, the NGO's wildlife emergency response team arrived at the spot for the rescue but they lacked the requisite equipment, a senior police official said.

The official said the tough job for them was to keep the blue bull confined to a safe corner. The police teams also made a human chain bordering the lawn to ensure the Nilgai doesn't run towards the road again.

Soon, traffic police also joined the operation and the area was cordoned off. The incident also caused traffic snarls in the area which lasted for around an hour.

Finally, the rescue was done by the forest department with the help of police and the NGO.

Meanwhile, in a statement issued later, the NGO Wildlife SOS said "the animal was safe" and it will be released back in its natural habitat "shortly".

"The Nilgai strayed from its natural habitat and lost its way. We are glad the animal is safe. We will be releasing it back in the wild shortly," its co-founder Geeta Seshamani was quoted as saying in the statement.

Harshad Solanki, the NGO's rescue coordinator, said the outfit's team waited for the animal to settle down before approaching it "cautiously" and then used safety net to direct it towards rescue vehicle.

Kartick Satyanarayan, another co-founder of the NGO, underscored the need for educating public about "increased tolerance of the wildlife around to help them coexist peacefully".

The Nilgai or blue bull (Boselaphus tragocamelus) is the largest Asian antelope and it is endemic to the Indian subcontinent. This species is protected under Schedule III of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

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