- The Andhra Pradesh State Wildlife Department has kick-started the first-ever survey of blackbucks along a stretch of islands in the Godavari between Dowleswaram and Yanam with the goal of drawing up a conservation plan to protect the endangered species.
- The survey was mooted in the wake of scores of blackbucks getting stranded on the islands that have been hit by the Godavari floods.
- The islands surrounded by the branches of the Godavari, such as the Gowthami, Vasista, Vainteya and Vridha Gowthami, in Konaseema and East Godavari districts are a major habitat for blackbucks, which roam across the region close to human habitations.
- There have been instances of blackbucks getting poached downstream of Dowleswaram.
- Of the many islands that are home to the animal, Bobbarlanka, located downstream Dowleswaram barrage, is home to a huge number of blackbucks, where they can be sighted all through the year.
- Flood in Godavari river has been receding steadily. The third warning signal at Dowleswaram barrage was withdrawn on Tuesday (19 July) afternoon after the flood discharge levels dropped below 19 lakh cusecs.
- Road connectivity among the four States has been cut-off as flood water continued to flow on the national highways between Chintoor and Bhadrachalam.
- Peninsular India’s biggest river system.
- also known as the Dakshin Ganga
- Left Bank Tributaries: Dharna, Penganga, Wainganga, Wardha, Pranahita, Pench, Kanhan, Sabari, Indravati.
- Right Bank tributaries: Pravara, Mula, Manjra, Peddavagu, Maner.
- The majority of the basin is occupied by agricultural land, accounting for 59.57 percent of the total area, and water bodies cover 3.6 percent of the basin.
- During the Southwest monsoon, the Godavari basin receives the most rainfall.
Concern for the Blackbuck
- “As of Monday, at least 20 stranded blackbucks are being protected on the islands. Two blackbucks that received injuries have died. There is also a possibility of their mortality during the Godavari floods, a natural calamity. Our personnel are observing the islands and the movements of the blackbucks,” Divisional Forest Officer (Wildlife-Rajamundry) C. Selvam told.
- In the islands of the Godavari, co-existence of local communities with the blackbuck has been ensuring the safety of the species.
- Indian Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) is an antelope and is the only living species of the genus Antilope.
- It is considered to be the fastest animal in the world next to Cheetah.
- The horns of the blackbuck are ringed with one to four spiral turns and the female is usually hornless.
- It is a species of antelope native to India and Nepal.
- It is widespread in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, and other areas throughout peninsular India.
- It is considered as the epitome of grassland.
- The blackbuck is a diurnal antelope (active mainly during the day).
- It has been declared as the State Animal of Punjab, Haryana, and Andhra Pradesh.
Population Change of Blackbucks over time
- About 300 years ago, it is estimated that about 4 million blackbucks roamed the whole of the Indian landmass that lies south of the Himalayas.
- The love of the colonial masters and the royalty for hunting had reduced their numbers considerably, and had completely disappeared from the areas that constitute modern day Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
- At the time of independence, the number of blackbucks were estimated to be 80,000 and this further dwindled to 30,000 by the 1970s.
- The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 give the blackbuck as much protection as the tiger, which helped boost their numbers.
- By the turn of the millennium, their numbers had reached 50,000 and the IUCN altered the status of blackbucks from “Vulnerable to Near Threatened”.
- A decade after that, antelopes had become so numerous in several pockets of north and central India which saw IUCN changing its status again from “Vulnerable to Least Concerned” in 2017.
- Wildlife Protection Act 1972: Schedule I
- IUCN Status: Least Concern
- CITES: Appendix III
- Habitat Fragmentation, Deforestation, Natural Calamities, Illegal Hunting.
- The Bishnoi community of Rajasthan is known worldwide for their conservation efforts to blackbuck and Chinkara.
- Velavadar Blackbuck Sanctuary – Gujarat
- Point Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary – Tamil Nadu
- In 2017, the Uttar Pradesh State Government approved the plan of setting up the Blackbuck Conservation Reserve in the trans-Yamuna belt near Prayagraj. It would be the first conservation reserve dedicated to the blackbuck.
Why Animal Counting?
- Counting animal numbers is vitally important if we want to understand animal populations and how they change over time.
- This helps conservationists make better decisions about how to care for animals in the future.
The ‘Blackbuck National Park’ situated in the Indian State of
(c) Madhya Pradesh