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Friday, Aug 23, 2019

Blackbuck habitat discovered near Greater Noida

Blackbucks are one of the 48 mammal species listed in the Wildlife (Protection) Act’s Schedule 1 and enjoy the highest protection among animals in the country since 1972. Hunting blackbucks can lead to three- to seven-year imprisonment.

india Updated: Jan 15, 2019 07:15 IST
Snehil Sinha
Snehil Sinha
Hindustan Times, Greater Noida
The new habitat, which is around 70 km from Delhi in the National Capital Region (NCR), was discovered after residents reported two poached blackbucks in October and November.
The new habitat, which is around 70 km from Delhi in the National Capital Region (NCR), was discovered after residents reported two poached blackbucks in October and November.(HT Photo)
         

A protected antelope species habitat with about 150 to 200 blackbucks, of which there was no official record, has been found in Gautam Budh Nagar district’s Rabupura village, according to the state forest department.

This new habitat, which is around 70 km from Delhi in the National Capital Region (NCR), was discovered after residents reported two poached blackbucks in October and November. These blackbucks are in addition to the 122 recorded at 10 spots across the district by the last forest department census in 2011.

Divisional forest officer PK Srivastava said the habitation remained undiscovered until now since it is located in a deserted rural area surrounded by fields. “The forest department had not received any information of [blackbuck] sightings from there previously,’’ he said. He called the discovery “a huge gain” and confirmed that the total number of blackbucks in the district would be “well over 250 now”.

“We are now monitoring it [the habitat] regularly, trying to conduct a census soon and see what can be done for the [blackbuck] conversation,” Srivastava added.

Komal Nai, a farmer from Rabupura, said the habitat may be news to the authorities but not for the residents. “Blackbucks have always roamed in our grassy and sugarcane fields where they can remain hidden,” said Nai, who added that residents of the village had no idea about the significance of the animals.

According to Nai, the authorities were called in October for the first time when one of the animals was found injured. “The blackbuck could not be saved, and this was followed by a similar incident in November.”

Another farmer, Pyare Lal, said he was the first to spot the injured blackbuck in October. He said the killing shocked residents as they never hurt blackbucks and deer even when they destroy crops. Lal said harming animals is not considered good in the village.

They can just be scared away easily, he added.

Blackbucks are one of the 48 mammal species listed in the Wildlife (Protection) Act’s Schedule 1 and enjoy the highest protection among animals in the country since 1972. Hunting blackbucks can lead to three- to seven-year imprisonment.

Srivastava said the department regularly monitors existing habitats, but there has not been any official count since 2011. He added that officials have now increased patrolling in the area and are in touch with the residents after the “first-ever” blackbuck poaching in the region.

The forest department plans to get protected status for the habitat as commercial activity is set to increase around it with the Jewar airport coming up about 20km away.

Dhirendra Singh, who represents Jewar in Uttar Pradesh assembly, said several places in Greater Noida and Jewar have wild animals. “We will soon ask for a thorough examination so that steps for conservation can be taken for wild animals and protected zones can be created. The entire NCR is turning into a concrete jungle with increasing pollution levels. We have to urgently take steps for a better environment.”

Wildlife Protection Society of India executive director Belinda Wright underlined that nothing can be or should be done without a thorough analysis of the region and the habitat. “Intervention in the area may be difficult if most of it [the habitat] is [located on] private land. For now, there should not be increased interference. That is how these animals seem to have lived there for so long.”

First Published: Jan 15, 2019 07:15 IST

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