With the much-awaited project of the state government to create a 350-acre blackbuck sanctuary near Sultanpur National Park getting the approval from the Centre, the forest department has started fencing the area and planting saplings of native species there. The project is expected to be complete in three to four years.
Sultanpur National Park is located around 15 kms from the city. Gurgaon does not have blackbucks and the animals will be brought from Mahendragarh district in the state. According to the official estimate, there are around 500 blackbucks in Mahendragarh. The decision to develop the sanctuary has been taken to conserve blackbuck species in the state, said an official from the wildlife department.
Blackbucks are revered by the Bishnoi community in Haryana and Rajasthan. The deer species is in the list of endangered wildlife animals in India.
The project got the final nod from the Central government last month. On Wednesday, the state chief conservator of forest visited the area to assess the habitat before introducing the species.
In a preliminary report submitted by the forest department in Gurgaon to the authorities in Chandigarh, it was pointed out that the area is a reserve forest and so will be a good habitat for a sizeable number of blackbucks along with other wildlife.
MD Sinha, conservator of forest, Gurgaon, said since the Gurgaon does not have blackbucks, they will be introduced in the region.
“They (blackbucks) share habitat with Chinkara and live in open grasslands in the drier part of Mahendragarh. And since the proposed sanctuary is protected, these antelopes will thrive there,” said Sinha.
A threatened species, on the verge of extinction due to extensive hunting in the pre-Independence days, blackbucks are confined to a few reserves across India. “They survive in open and dry grasslands and woods. Historically, the species flourished well in the region and there may not be any issue (introducing them here). But a survey should be conducted before it is done,” said Bilal Habib of the Wildlife Institute of India.
“The proposed sanctuary will be the first such reserve exclusively for blackbucks in the region,” said Anand, divisional forest officer of Gurgaon.
Trees species such as salvadora persica (arak, meswak), prosopis cineraria (khejri), azadhiracta indica (neem), carrisa carrendus (karonda) and shrubs such as capparis sepriaria (kanthari) and ziziphus nummularia (jharber) will be planted in the area.