Sorry: The blackbuck, the most elegant species of the antelope family, is on the list of endangered animals but in Odisha’s Ganjam district its number has almost doubled in the last six years.

There has not been a single case of blackbuck poaching for the past few years thanks to the protection given to them by locals at Balipadara-Bhetnani area near Aska, said Dilip Kumar Rout, the divisional forest officer of Ghumsar South in Ganjam district.

Like the Bishnoi tribe community in Rajasthan, the people of Ganjam district has been protecting the blackbucks as they consider that seeing one is harbinger of prosperity for them, former wildlife warden of Odisha S S Srivastav said.

The number of blackbucks, locally called Krushnasara Murga or Kala Bahutia, has increased from 3806 in 2015 to 7358 in 2021. In 2011 their population in the area was 2194, Rout said. The southern Odisha district is in fact the only habitat of the mamal at present in the state and one can see hordes of blackbacks roaming freely in the area. This is in sharp contrast to the situation in Balukhand-Konark wildlife sanctuary in Puri district where blackbucks, which were seen till 2012-13 is not seen any more.

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Blackbuck is included in the Schedule-1 of the Wildlife(Protection) Act-1972 and is listed as near threatened in IUCN Red list category.

Improvement of habitat, protection by the local people and forest staff are the reasons for the increase in the number of blackbucks in Ganjam, Rout said.

Some blackbucks have died in accidents while moving across roads, fighting among themselves and dog bites. “But not a single poaching case was reported in the last some years”, he said.

Since 2019-20 a total 48 blackbucks had died in the area and of them 18 due to the road mishaps, Rout added.

“The blackbuck occupies a vital place in our religion, which encourages the local people to protect them. Sighting a living one is believed to break a long speel drought and a blessing for the prosperity of the area,” said the president of Blackbuck Protection Committee (Ganjam) Amulya Upadhyaya.

The villagers do not harm the animals even if they destroy crops. Though the region is not protected by the government, the animals roam freely due to the protection given by the villagers, he said.

The Committee along with the forest workers is involved in creating awareness among the people to protect the species, Upadhyay added.

The DFO said meadow development programmes for increasing food, water and safety of the animal was taken up in the area under the Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats (IDWH) scheme. Salt licks and water holes have also been created.

Besides a watch tower, a rescue-cum-treatment centre have been set up in the area to treat injured blackbucks.

With accidents during crossing roads becoming the major reason for the death of blackbucks in Ganjam, speed breakers and road humps have been created in vulnerable areas. Signages advising vehicle drivers to reduce their speed limits in blackbuck habitats have also been put up, he said.

(This story is published as part of the auto-generated syndicate wire feed. Apart from the headline, no editing has been done in the copy by ABP Live.)

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