Village in Bagalkot district may be declared sanctuary for Chinkaras

Village in Bagalkot district may be declared sanctuary for Chinkaras

The Forest department has proposed to declare a huge patch of forest land at Yadahalli village in Bilagi taluk of Bagalkot district as protected area for the rediscovered antelope species, Chinkara, in the State.

However, wildlife experts are now insisting that another place near Tumakuru, where the species was rediscovered simultaneously, should also get a similar tag.

The Forest department, which had rediscovered Chinkara or Indian Gazelle in Bagalkot district through camera traps, has proposed to declare it a sanctuary. The distribution of this antelope is mainly in Gujarat and Rajasthan and is extremely sparse in South India. The nearest breeding centre of this species is near Solapur district in Maharashtra.

“The species was last reported 30 years ago in the State. M R Desai, honorary wildlife warden, Bagalkot, had informed about it. To confirm it, the Forest department began installing cameras to record the findings. Now, we have established its presence,” Vijay Mohan Raj, Chief Conservator of Forests, Belagavi Circle, told Deccan Herald.

Protected species

He said the species, which is protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Act, is also getting natural protection from the friendly local residents.

“The species probably had never gone extinct, but not much was done to explore its presence,” he said, when questioned about how it might have resurfaced.

The proposed Chinkara Wildlife Sanctuary is a dry deciduous patch with an area of 100 sq km (25,000 acres) and will include 12 villages. Nine villages - Amalazari, Yadahalli, Gulabala, Teggi, Bisnal, Bilagi, Sunag, Arakeri and Janmatti - are in Bilagi taluk. Halagali, Melligere and Kishori villages are in Mudhol taluk in the district.

Though the number of gazelles found here is about 50, camera traps have revealed that there is a sizeable breeding population. The same will ensure further research and significance of dryland mammals in North Karnataka.

The antelope was discovered in two places in Karnataka. One was in Bukkapatna state forest in Sira taluk in Tumakuru district this year.

Unexpected development

Wildlife expert Sanjay Gubbi from Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) documented the presence of Chinkara in Bukkapatna earlier this year. The antelope was camera-trapped unexpectedly, while NCF had installed the cameras for documentation of leopards as part of its project.

With the declaration of Yedahalli as a sanctuary by the Forest department, NCF is now demanding that even Bukkapatna should be declared a sanctuary. The Bukkapatna forest with an area of 175 square km has three species of antelopes, the Chinkara, blackbuck (antelope cervicapra) and the four-horned antelope (tetracerus quadricornis).

“Perhaps, Bukkapatna is the only documented place in Karnataka, which has all these three antelope species, making it a unique area ecologically,” says Gubbi.

An exclusively grassland species, the number of Chinkaras is dwindling due to rampant poaching and loss of habitat.

According to Gubbi, Chinkara was not recorded in southern Karnataka, except in the book, ‘Thirteen years among the wild beasts of India’ in the 1800s by British officer G P Sanderson. The book mentions about the possible finding of Chinkaras near Mysuru.

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