Tue, 06 Aug 2002

Captive deer find home at local university

Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post, Medan

Beautiful deer with branching horns and dotted or dark brown skin are common in Indonesia and are easily found around the Bogor presidential palace in West Java, the country's largest captive breeding center for deer.

It was after witnessing the successful deer breeding project in Bogor, rector of North Sumatra University (USU), Chairuddin P. Lubis, became interested to set up a captive breeding project for deer in his campus complex.

Then, when visiting Bogor in mid 1996, Lubis, an animal lover himself, found the idea to raise deer at his university was possible.

A month after his return from Bogor, the rector wrote to then state secretary Moerdiono, asking for five deer from the Bogor palace to start his breeding project at the campus. Moerdiono agreed and dispatched the five dotted deers by air to the university.

At first, Lubis did not get the response he expected from his colleagues about the project. His colleagues thought the idea of raising deer had little to do with education. They also feared that the weather in North Sumatra was not suitable for the deer.

"We were really pessimistic then that the rector would be successful in his captive breeding of deer," said Jhon Tafbu Ritonga, the rector's third assistant.

But the response did not make Lubis changed his mind about the plan.

After a few months, these dotted deers multiplied and he began to enjoy a warm response not only from his colleagues but also from business circles. Some successful businessmen in Medan like Rahmat Shah, Anif Shah and Enteng S. contributed a deer each to Lubis.

"We are really surprised to learn that deer can multiply here. So, we support the rector's attempt to establish a deer captive breeding center at USU," said Jhon Tafbu. He added the ministry of forestry did not issue a permit for the deer captive breeding project at USU until 1998.

After the issuance of this permit, the project site was moved from the plot of land in front of postgraduate study building to the one in front of the rector's administration office on Jl. Dr. Mansur, Medan since the former site was too small for dozens of deer.

"The new site measures three hectares and the deer can now move more freely. Otherwise they will easily become stressful and die of stress," Lubis said, adding that in the old site at least three deers had died.

The rector said he had teamed up with vets from Medan zoo to maintain and monitor the project.

Lubis said he was obsessed to raise deer and some other animals at the university to make the center an object of research for students and lecturers -- particularly from the animal husbandry department of the university's School of Agriculture; to make the center an object of creation for the public and to stimulate the public's interest to love animals through their captive breeding.

Today, there are 30 deer at USU captive breeding center, made up of four species: dotted deer, sambar deer, Sumatran deer and small antelopes. Many important people have inspected this captive breeding center such as Anwar Nasution, senior deputy of Bank Indonesia and T. Rizal Nurdin, North Sumatra governor.

"In fact we have bred a lot of deer in captivity but some of them have been given to our guests. The governor, for example, has asked for some to be raised in front of his official residence," said Lubis.

The captive breeding site also has some other animals like cassowaries, birds of paradise, rora and parakeets. Then it also has four Ottawan goats, an Australian cow, three mouse deer, iguanas and wild goats.

"Most of these animals are gifts from my friends. They trust that we can look after the animals," he added.

According to Lubis, the university has never spent even a rupiah for raising these animals. "We have some donors. They voluntarily donate money to us," he said, adding that just for their feed, between Rp 1 million and Rp 1.5 million is needed every month.

Guci Mardiyan, one of the caretakers of these animals, said they had never found trouble feeding these deer and other animals, which mostly eat vegetables and fruits like mangoes.

"Some people deliver vegetables and fruits for them regularly," said Guci, who has worked at the center for 1.5 years.