Blackbuck sighted in Cauvery wildlife sanctuary in Kollegal

  • The Forest Department has reported the first-ever sighting and recording of the blackbuck, or Indian Antelope, in the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary in Kollegal.

  • It was recorded from Mambetta Reserve Forest area of the Hannur Wildlife Range, Hannur, on February 8. It was photographed by the field staff during their regular patrolling duty.
  • This reporting of the blackbuck in the Cauvery wildlife sanctuary will add cheer to the conservation efforts of the Forest Department in the backdrop of the possible declaration of Cauvery wildlife sanctuary as a tiger reserve in the near futureThe blackbuck was spotted in the Mambetta Reserve Forest area of Hannur wildlife range, in Kollegal on February 8.
  • The blackbuck is a new addition to the existing list of ungulates in the Cauvery wildlife sanctuary and it definitely becomes an additional prey base to the top predators such as the tiger and leopard.
  • The species has so far not been sighted and documented in the Cauvery-MM.Hills-BRT Sanctuary belt.
  • Incidentally, there is a proposal before the government to develop about 1,504.39 acres of land at Ummathur and Bagli villages in Chamarajanagar district to sustain the blackbuck population.
  • At present, the blackbuck conservation reserves in the State are at Ranebennur in Haveri and Jayamanagali in Tumakuru.

The blackbuck

  • The blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) is an ungulate species of antelope native to the Indian subcontinent that has been listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List since 2003, as its range has decreased sharply during the 20th century. The native population is stable, with an estimated 50,000 individuals as of 2001

Distribution and habitat

  • In the 19th century, blackbucks ranged in open plains from the base of the Himalayas to the area of Cape Comorin, and from the Punjab to Lower Assam. They were abundant in the North-Western Provinces, Rajputana, parts of theDeccan, and on the plains near the coast of Orissa and Lower Bengal. Herds occasionally comprised several thousand animals of both sexes and all ages.
  • Today, the blackbuck population is confined to areas in Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Gujarat,Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka, with a few small pockets in central India.
  • Their chief predator was the Asiatic cheetah, now extinct in India Currently, wolves are the main predators of both fawns and adults. Fawns are also hunted by jackals. Village dogs are reported to kill fawns, but are unlikely to successfully hunt and kill adults.
  • The maximum lifespan recorded is 16 years and the average is 12 years.

Threats

  • During the last century, blackbuck range and numbers have declined sharply due to excessive hunting. Increasing numbers of livestock and humans destroy blackbuck habitat. Some blackbucks are killed illegally especially where they co-occur with nilgai.
  • Blackbucks are hunted for their flesh and skin. Occasional incidents of poaching still occur. The remaining populations are under threat from inbreeding.
  • The natural habitat of the blackbuck is being encroached upon by local people who need arable land and grazing ground for their livestock.
  • Exposure to livestock also exposes them to bovine diseases.
  • Its protected status has gained publicity through a widely reported court case, in which one of India’s leading film stars,Salman Khan, was sentenced to five years imprisonment for killing two blackbucks and several endangered chinkaras, in a protected area. The court case was prompted by intense protests from the Bishnoi ethnic group, which holds animals and trees sacred, and on whose land the hunting had taken place
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