Nilgai death sparks concerns over lack of water in Aravalli
The body of a nilgai, which suspectedly died of thirst next to a dried-up pond near Behrampur village, was discovered on May 5, sparking concern among environmentalists about the availability of water for wildlife during summers. Activists had, around the same time last year, found multiple dead nilgais at the same spot.
Officials in the forest department, on the other hand, said there was no shortage of water in the Aravallis, but the department would nevertheless continue to fill water pits in the forested areas of south Haryana beginning next week.
Chief conservator (wildlife) for Gurugram, Vinod Kumar, said, “One cannot say that the nilgai died of thirst. It could have also died of natural causes. However, right now, seasonal water bodies in the Aravallis are drying up, so we will be filling up ponds throughout the region.”
Gurugram district wildlife officer Shyam Sunder said, “We have made arrangements this year for two new water tankers. Last year, we had just one tractor-tanker with a capacity of 5,000 litres. Now, we can deliver 18,000 litres of water at a time. We will start filling up water pits in Surajkund, Ferozepur Jhirka, Bandhwari, Mangar and other wildlife hotspots, starting next week.”
Officials said that each of the six districts in south Haryana have been asked to submit reports on their requirement for water in summer.
“If required, we will rent more tankers like we did last year,” Sundar added. The main objective, he said, was to make drinking water available to animals at a distance of every one-and-a-half to two kilometres throughout Aravalli wildlife corridor.
However, the lack of tankers and scarcity of water have made filling ponds a challenge.
“I have now appealed to the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram and to the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority, asking if they can either provide us with tankers or a certain amount of raw water for the animals,” Sunder said, adding that he was yet to hear from these agencies. “We are also open to any private entity who might be willing to help us through CSR channels,” he said.
Vaishali Rana Chandra, a city-based activist who discovered the dead nilgai, said, “It is very surprising that the forest department has not taken up this task as yet. We are in the middle of May, whereas water bodies begin drying up in early April. The forest department needs to act faster.”
In the absence of drinking water, Chandra explained, animals are forced to venture out of the forest and into human habitation. This increases chances of human-animal conflict.