Blackbuck conservation breeding facility mooted at Abohar wildlife sanctuary

Published on Sep 22, 2022 03:15 AM IST

The conservation breeding facility for endangered blackbucks project was mooted after sarpanch of Sukhchain village offered to donate 10 acres for the conservation of the blackbuck.

The Punjab forest and wildlife department is coming up with a conservation breeding facility for endangered blackbucks in their natural environment at the Shri Guru Jambeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary in Fazilka district’s Abohar subdivision. (Sanjeev Kumar/HT)
The Punjab forest and wildlife department is coming up with a conservation breeding facility for endangered blackbucks in their natural environment at the Shri Guru Jambeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary in Fazilka district’s Abohar subdivision. (Sanjeev Kumar/HT)
ByVishal Joshi, Bathinda

The Punjab forest and wildlife department is coming up with a conservation breeding facility for endangered blackbucks in their natural environment at the Shri Guru Jambeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary in Fazilka district’s Abohar subdivision.

The first-of-its-kind project in the state was mooted after the sarpanch of Sukhchain village, Manoj Godara offered to donate 10 acres from his family trust for free for the conservation of the blackbuck, the state animal of Punjab.

The authorities said the proposed project, which will also act as a wildlife rescue-cum-rehabilitation centre, will be started after getting the necessary approval from the Centre.

Godara, who belongs to the Bishnoi community and owns land at Mehrana village, credits senior Indian Forest Officer and conservator of forests (protected areas) T Ganana Parkash for pushing the programme.

“The number of blackbucks (called hiran in the local parlance) has decreased at an alarming level in the last few years. Due to constrained food availability and the increase in the population of stray cattle and dogs, blackbucks have migrated to the adjoining areas of Rajasthan. Blackbuck is a cultural identity of Abohar and being a member of the Bishnoi community, I am contributing my bit for wildlife conservation,” said Godara.

He has volunteered to donate the land with conditions that the forest department would not put the piece of land for any other purpose than wildlife conservation.

Godara also wants the conservation breeding centre to be named after Guru Jambeshwar, founder of the Bishnoi fold.

Parkash said community participation is an important part of the project and stray cattle management in the wildlife sanctuary is key to conserving the dwindling population of the antelope in the sanctuary.

A cluster of 13 villages near Abohar was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1989 on the demand of the Bishnois to protect wild animals on their private lands in the area.

“It is a unique wildlife sanctuary that is owned entirely by private individuals or panchayats. It is based in the heartland of the environment-loving Bishnois and we are roping in the community members for wildlife conservation. We are waiting for a report from the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, for conservation breeding at Mehrana and it will be sent to the Union government for a nod,” said Punjab chief wildlife warden Praveen Kumar.

He said ecological degradation of the sanctuary impacted the blackbuck population.

“Over the years, sand dunes, the natural habitat of antelopes, converted into cultivable land. It came as a direct loss to blackbucks. The land offered to us is barren and ideal for conservation breeding,” said Kumar.

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