Blackbuck Conservation in Ganjam: Great Efforts in Conservation

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Deforestation is one of the major causes to the environmental degradation which is mostly effected on the animals which play major role in ecosystem. Activities like hunting, poaching, habitat destruction, overgrazing, agriculture fields and inbreeding has led to a drastic downward fluctuation in the blackbuck population.

“Antelope cervicapra” is the scientific name of Blackbuck. It is also called as an Indian antelope. Blackbuck is the fastest animal in the world next to Cheetah. Blackbucks lives on fresh tender leaves, grass, crops, cereals, vegetables and leaves of shrubs, trees and succulent grasses. They can survive without drinking water for a day to a week. The spiral horns may grow up to 1/3rd to the actual size and life span is about 12 to 15 years. Within the time period of 10 years i.e, from 1982-1993 the population is drastically reduced by 50% due to various reasons such as lack of grass and deforestation.

The farmers in Southern Odisha give highest priority to blackbucks, and they say blackbuck crop the tops of their plants. The cropped plants farms like bush, yields go up and profit increased. In 1997, Ganjam district won the Biju Patnaik Award for wildlife conservation. In Odisha the estimated population of Blackbuck is about 800 to 900. These animals live in villages instead of well-guarded sanctuaries. No fences for crops were found around Ganjam to allow blackbucks eat grass.

Blackbucks are severely affected by natural calamities such as floods and droughts, from which they can take as long as five years to recover. Check dam and percolation tanks and reservoir are made available on the premises to ensure adequate water sources for the blackbucks. In India, hunting of blackbuck is prohibited under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. It has been categorized least concerned in IUCN Red Data Book. To monitor its movements and stave off any danger or disturbance, watch towers had been erected at various places in the sanctuary.

Ganjam forest department are actively participating in restoration of blackbuck population.  More than a thousand Blackbucks are taking shelter in an assemblage of seventy villages, located in a drought prone region of the State. These villagers also have to sacrifice considerable amount of their agricultural produce because of depredation by these animals. As a part of blackbuck conservation program, around 300 persons including forest personnel; volunteers and experts took part in the five to six-hour-long enumeration. Improvement of habitats, protection given by local people and forest staff and phenomenal growth were some of the reasons for increase of the blackbuck population.

Blackbucks thought to bring good luck, hence people love and respect blackbucks. Local people and forest officials had joined hands to save these antelopes, create awareness about biodiversity conservation and provide opportunities for people’s participation and eco-tourism. In order to conserve Blackbuck, villagers should adopt blackbuck and grow them as pet animal.

Blackbuck restoration program in Ganjam district is a classic example of symbiosis and incorporating ecological principles in human society. This is an integral part of biodiversity conservation and also helps the Ganjam local community to obtain more yields from their agricultural crops.

Author: K. Gayathri Mahalakshmi, SRF(P), BEES lab, CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad.

Image Source: result for blackbuck images


Posted By : ScienceIndia Administrator
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