Nation Current Affairs 25 Jun 2018 Rising blackbuck num ...

Rising blackbuck numbers a challenge to forest minister in home turf

Published Jun 25, 2018, 3:49 am IST
Updated Jun 25, 2018, 3:49 am IST
Blackbucks in Ranibennur sanctuary
 Blackbucks in Ranibennur sanctuary

Hubballi: Environment and forest minister R Shankar is facing a tough challenge in his constituency itself owing to the rising population of blackbucks. 

These animals in Ranibennur Blackbuck Sanctuary and surrounding areas have doubled in numbers in the last one decade and this has been creating a lot of problems for the farming community in Haveri and adjacent districts. The blackbucks are also  falling prey to poachers as they are migrating to various parts of the region outside the sanctuary in search of food. Animal lovers are now pitching for an increase in the jurisdiction of the sanctuary and distribution of adequate compensation for crop loss suffered due to blackbucks entering agricultural fields.

 The blackbuck sanctuary is spread over an area of 11,900 hectares in Ranibennur taluk. As per the 2006 census, there were 6,700 blackbucks under the purview of the sanctuary. An equal number of blackbucks outside the sanctuary are straying into agricultural fields resulting in the loss of tender crops. Little is being done to prevent this and lakhs of rupees in compensation is paid to the farmers every year.  There has also been a reduction in grassland which provides staple food to the blackbucks, owing to the rampant growth of Nilgiris trees and thorny plants in the sanctuary. 

The area surrounding the sanctuary was once a hillock coming under the jurisdiction of the government. As the years rolled by, the vast area was brought under cultivation after several encroachments. This has caused severe hardship to the blackbucks with the increase in their numbers aggravating the problem.

"The sanctuary is facing a shortage of grassland as it comes under the rain shadow area. The growth of Nilgiris trees has worsened the problem as these trees absorb a lot of water from the underground water table. Moreover, the Kuruba community residing in 27 villages surrounding the sanctuary, allow their sheep and other cattle to enter the sanctuary. This will disturb the blackbucks and other animals in the sanctuary", environmentalist Madhuri Devadhar said.

Meanwhile, forest officials claimed that the farmers are not willing to erect solar fences surrounding their farm land though they are offered 50 per cent subsidy by the department. Stating that the increase of blackbucks to more than 12,000 has put more burden on the forest department, they said a proposal has been sent to the government to build a full-fledged fence in the habitat of the blackbucks  on the model of an elephant corridor. The forest officials are also giving more priority to the cultivation of more crops within the vicinity of the sanctuary to stop these animals from straying into the farm land for food. 

Location: India, Karnataka, Hubballi


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