The MP forest department plans to catch marauding wild Nilgais (blue bulls) from Era village in Mandsaur district and relocate them to Gandhi Sagar sanctuary situated in the same district.
“This is the first time that such an attempt is being made in the state if not the country, and we plan to capture 50 of these animals. We have received permission from the state government, and preparations are afoot; we plan to execute it by December end,” said Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (wildlife) Jitendra Agrawal.
“If the experiment proves successful, it will be replicated in other areas where Nilgais are damaging crops,” the PCCF said.
Nilgais pose a menace for farmers in Ratlam, Mandsaur, and Neemuch dists
Nilgais pose a menace for farmers in Ratlam, Mandsaur, and Neemuch districts where they damage crops -- opium, soyabean, or wheat. “They come in herds of up to 25-30 at night. Apart from what they eat, the maximum damage is done when they sit on crops or trample it,” said Ramesh Dhakkar, who cultivates 20 bighas of land on the outskirts of Sitamau.
The forest department has roped in Kartikeya Singh, an expert on trapping and relocating animals, for help. Taking a cue from the way wild animals are captured in South Africa, the forest department plans to construct a Boma with bamboos through which the animals will be herded into a waiting vehicle for transportation.
“The Boma is a funnel-shaped enclosure where the Nilgais will be herded from open fields with the help of local horsemen and people, and then transported,” said BS Annigeri, chief conservator of forests (CCF), Ujjain.
The job would be a unique experience for me, says trapping expert
Kartikeya Singh, an expert in trapping and radio-collaring species, said the job would be a unique experience for him. “I was a specialist involved in translocation of Gaur (Bas gaurus) from Kanha to Bandhavgarh, where the species had become extinct. They were staying in a confined place. But here capturing the Nilgais, who roam around freely, will be a major challenge.”
CCF Annigeri said Era village has been chosen because there is a large concentration of Nilgais in the area and the topography (wide open areas) is such that the experiment will be successful. “In South Africa, helicopters, drones and horsemen are used in combination to herd the animals, but here we will use horsemen and people who are being given training,” Annigeri said.
Forest officials are aware of the risks
Forest officials are aware of the risks. “No one knows how the Nilgais will react when herded into the Boma. We have to ensure that there are no mortalities while herding or transporting them,” said PCCF Agrawal.
Nilgais became a menace in the past decade or so, said Agrawal. “As irrigation increased, so did the area under agriculture. Even fallow land came under cultivation. Also the number of Nilgais increased as they got better food due to spread of agriculture. Nilgais usually forage on open areas and not dense forest.”
According to forest department figures, the state has around 33,500 Nilgais, of whom about 14,000 are there in the Ratlam, Mandsaur, Neemuch belt. Forest officials are unable to provide exact data on damage caused by Nilgais.