Greens see red as blackbucks dwindle

Greens see red as blackbucks dwindle

Verge of extinction

The dwindling numbers of blackbucks in the State’s only blackbuck sanctuary in the protected forest at Maidanahalli village of Madhugiri taluk in the district has caused concern among wildlife enthusiasts. 

The report of the blackbuck census conducted by the Forest department in association with the city-based Wildlife Awareness Institute (WAI), which was released on Monday, has revealed shocking figures. 

A total of 200 blackbucks have disappeared in a span of five years in the Jayamangali Blackbuck Sanctuary. More shockingly, there has been a decline in the number of young ones of the species which is on the brink of extinction.

There were 454 blackbucks in the area as per the 2009 census. But the number has plummeted to 257 as per the latest census. While there were 45 young ones in 2009, the figure is a worrisome 27 at present. 

The census report attributes the falling numbers of the species to the solar fencing of the vineyards which are mushrooming in and around Maidanahalli. 

More people are coming forward to set up vineyards, encouraged by the subsidy announced by the Centre and the impetus being provided by the State government. The blackbucks, which are used to a hurdle-free movement, are finding the solar-fenced vineyards a restricting factor. The species are disappearing not able to adopt to the changed environment, the report says. The vineyards have eaten into the grazing land in the forest, forcing them to enter farmlands for grazing.

However, the blackbucks are not facing any threat from the farmers who have stopped sowing seeds due to the blackbuck menace in their fields in the Maidanahalli area. 

Disastrous trendAnother cause for the trend has been the planting of Nilgiri and Acacia plants - under the social forestry scheme - in the blackbuck habitat. These plants, which are not native to the region, have had a disastrous effect on the growth of grass, the food of the blackbucks.

 T V N Murthy, president of WAI, also blames the wildlife photographers visiting the sanctuary. He says the unrestricted movement of the photographers’ vehicles in the forest is also affecting the free movement of these animals. 

Murthy is for curbs on the unrestricted movement of these vehicles in the sanctuary, besides the removal of plants like Nilgiri and Acacia in the blackbuck habitat. 

He also wants enough forest guards, equipped with the necessary weapons, posted in the forest so as to protect them from going extinct. Murthy suggests that the borders of the blackbuck sanctuary should be demarcated properly, with a moat dug around it, so as to restrict the wanton entry of vehicles.