No. of blackbucks increases in Ganjam

Berhampur: The number of blackbuck, an endangered species, has increased by 509 during the past three years in Ganjam district, divisional forest officer (Ghumusara South) R. Ch. Sethi said.

Total population of the blackbuck, locally known as Krushnasara Murga or Baliharina, was enumerated at 2181 presently, compared to their number of 1672 in 2008.

The census of the blackbuck was conducted by the forest department in Aska, Buguda, Polasara, Khallikote and Berhampur forest ranges, the abode of the endangered species of antelope in Ganjam district today, Sethi said.

Around 200 persons including forest personnel, volunteers and experts took part in the five-hour-long enumeration.

Out of total blackbuck counted this time, 1414 were female, 544 male and 223 young, the DFO said.

The population of black buck in 2008 was estimated at 1672 — 411 males, 1123 females and 138 young.

Improvement of habitats, protection given by the local people as well as forest staffs is some of the reasons for the rise in population of the blackbuck in the area, Sethi said.

The population of blackbuck in the area was 523 in 1973. Their number increased to 551 in 1998, 786 in 2004, 1101 in 2006.

Most of blackbucks were seen in Balipadara-Bhetanai area, comprising around 70 villages of Buguda, Aska and Polasara forest ranges in the district. Their number in Aska range was 706 followed by Buguda (700), Khallikote (644), Polasara (127) and Berhampur (4), sources said.

The blackbucks of Balipadara-Bhetanai area have been protected religiously by the local people for several generations. The strong belief that the presence of blackbuck in the paddy fields brings prosperity to the village is at the root of the protection afforded to this species.

"The villagers do not kill the animal, even if it strays into the field and graze their crop," said the president of the Blackbuck Protection Committee (Ganjam) Amulya Upadhyaya.

Poaching of blackbuck was almost nil in the area due to the protection provided by protection committee members in various villages, he said.