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Steps taken to save blackbucks

Praveen Paul Joseph

Reservoir strengthened, towers erected and men deployed to check poaching



Safe GROUND:A blackbuck resting at Vallanad Sanctuary in Tuticorin district.

Tuticorin: Since blackbucks (Antelope cervicapra) are considered as endangered species, efforts are being made to protect and conserve them in the natural habitat.

To protect the reducing population of blackbucks, adequate measures are being taken at the Vallanad Blackbuck Sanctuary in Tuticorin district.

Vallanad has become a popular place for blackbuck habitation since it is an isolated hillock with scrub forest.

The Vallanad Blackbuck Sanctuary, formed in 1987, is the southern most abode for the animal in India.

The sanctuary in Tamil Nadu is one of the few natural habitats remaining for the blackbuck. Apart from Vallanad, blackbuck sanctuaries are found in Point Calimere, Nagapattinam and Guindy National Park, Chennai.

Since this species has been found in minimal numbers on the hilly terrain of Vallanad, concrete steps are being taken to conserve the nature habitat for its survival.

Blackbuck, which is the sensitive and the fastest moving animal in the forest, requires enough open grasslands with tall grass and bushes.

The reservoir on the premises is strengthened. Check dam and percolation tanks are made available at the sanctuary to ensure adequate water sources for the blackbucks.

To monitor its movements and stave off any danger or disturbance, three watch towers had been erected at various places in the sanctuary, said Dinkar Kumar, District Forest Officer (in-charge) while talking to ‘The Hindu.'

Moreover, 12 anti-poaching watchers had been deployed to check illegal activities.

The animal might be susceptible to the foot and mouth disease.

During the previous month, five veterinary camps had been conducted by the Forest Department for the cattle at Vallanad village of Srivaikuntam taluk to prevent any spread of the disease to the blackbucks. Such camps were being frequently conducted.

Surviving stock

While answering a query, he said that more than 30 blackbucks were surviving according to its population estimation. If protection and conservation of natural resources were strengthened, its population could be increased in the days to come, Mr. Dinkar added.

Sources from the Forest Department added that about 2,000 hectares of grasslands were required additionally at the sanctuary to ensure a safe habitat for the species. Since the grassland was inadequate, these animals were on the move.

In the next 30 years, blackbucks might face the threat of extinction, if the habitat was not expanded.

About 400 feral cattle and other stray animals were found wandering by the side of the sanctuary. For maintenance, funds of Rs. 50, 000 was allotted to drive away stray animals. The stone quarry units nearby were also causing disturbance to this rare species, sources said.

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