The Madhya Pradesh forest department is planning to develop a deer habitat on 175 hectares of land in Shajapur district to accommodate growing population of herbivores and save them from man-animal conflict, divisional forest officer (DFO) Lavit Bharti said on Wednesday.
The habitat will be developed in Shujulapur area of the Shajapur district with the help of the villagers. He said the government has initially sanctioned 24 hectares of land for the project. On its successful completion, the government will sanction the rest of the land in a due course of time, he said.
Bharti said the habitat would be developed in such a way that it would be home for blackbucks, Chinkaras (Indian Gazelle) and nilgai (bluebulls) too. There are over 10,000 such herbivores, whose population is concentrated in Shajapur’s Kalapipal and Shujalpur areas. However, they often get killed in road accidents, by devouring pesticide infested crops or by poachers. He said in the absence of a proper forest land for them, over 150 herbivores had been killed accidentally over the past 10 years.
There were only 2000 these animals in the area in 2011. However, the recent census showed there number rising to 12000. Out of which 10,000 alone are Chinkara and blue bulls, Bharti said.
He said a detailed project was submitted to the head office a few months ago, highlighting how involving Jethada, Dunglay, Alisirya, Magraniya, Dabri and Dhabla Doshi villages in developing the habitat could not only save the animals but also the farmers who often suffer heavy crop losses due to animal invasion.
Bharti said the department had decided to develop a sanctuary earlier. However, later it was found that it was not possible to keep a large number of animals in a small area. The advisory committee of the forest department mulled over the issue and suggested a conservation habitat instead of a sanctuary to address the population issue.
He said the project would be unique as it would take care of the interests of both the animals and the villagers.
As per the project, the forest department would grow routine crops on 60% of the land (175 hectares) for the animals. About 30% of the land would be used for perennial crops and on the remaining 10%, the department would develop a seed bank. A dedicated feeding zone will help restrict the herbivores to the area and work as a deterrent for man-animal conflicts. “If the experiment succeeds, it will be implanted in other states of the country too,” Bharti said.
The project will increase awareness about wildlife conservation and help boost ecotourism
It will help reduce man-animal conflict
The habitat will start getting regular budgetary allocation once it is notified under wildlife protection act.
Expansive herbivore zone will reduce in-breeding and help healthy population