The Wildlife Taxidermy Centre at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) in Borivli, which has successfully preserved the bodies of over 250 wild animals, birds and reptiles for educational purposes and display, recently preserved a specimen of the rare Indian Mouse Deer. Officials of the Thane Forest Department had brought the injured deer to SGNP, but the animal, which was already weak, died while undergoing treatment.
Vikas Gupta, chief conservator of forests (CCF) and director, SGNP, said, “Mouse deer is a very rare wild animal. So when it died, we decided to do its taxidermy so that it could be preserved for educational purposes, and people and researchers get a chance to look at it.”
The Wildlife Taxidermy Centre at SGNP is the only taxidermy centre in the country that preserves wild animals. Taxidermist Dr Santosh Gaikwad, who is also the Associate Professor of Bombay Veterinary College, has done taxidermy of 250 wild animals, birds and reptiles. The centre was set up in SGNP in 2009.
Gaikwad said, “Usually, it takes 15 days to compete the taxidermy procedure. But in the case of the mouse deer, it took me two months, as I had to balance my profession and the work of taxidermy. Mouse deer is a very rare animal and doing its taxidermy was a very good experience. I am hopeful that it will be helpful for educational and research purposes.”
Gaikwad has already done taxidermy of animals like snow leopard, lion, Bengal tiger, Siberian tiger, elephants, bear, and tortoise, among other animals. “I have not done any course, but over the years I learnt through practice and observation. I am really happy that slowly taxidermy is getting recognition and is emerging. I am thankful to the state forest department for giving me a chance to work with them,” said Gaikwad.
What is Taxidermy?
The word Taxidermy (Greek for ‘moving skin’) is the art and process of mounting or reproducing animals for display. The skin of a dead animal is removed, tanned and treated. The carcass is then moulded in plaster. The mould is used to produce a cast of the animal. Glass eyes and artificial teeth are added to the display. The art has been famous in the country since the British era.
Did you know?
Indian Mouse Deer is also known as Indian Spotted Chevrotain (Moschiola indica). Its body length is just 23 inches (57.5 cm), with a tail length of 1 inch (2.5 cm). The mouse deer weighs about 3 kg. The deer is nocturnal and its sightings are rare in the wild.