Berhampur: Alleging that the local administration has failed to take steps for conservation of around 4,000 blackbucks present in the locality, residents of Bhetanai village in Ganjam district have sought better protection for the antelopes.

Locals in the area believe that presence of these endangered species brings prosperity to the village. Though visitors from across the State and outside visit Bhetanai to witness the blackbucks, the administration has not done anything significant to provide amenities to the tourists.

“Whatever the State government has done for conservation of blackbucks is very little. Water has dried up in the tanks built for the species. Had the administration revived the pond, it would have benefitted the people as well as the blackbucks,” said Amulya Kumar Upadhaya, president of the Blackbuck Managing Committee.

Expressing similar views, Siddheswara Samal, a tourist, said this place is popular for presence of thousands of blackbucks. Even though many people visit this place, no facilities are available for visitors.

Refuting the charges, the Forest department said strict rules have been enforced in the area to stop poaching of blackbucks. Besides, availability of food and drinking water has been ensured, it added.

“Locals have given their cultivation land for conservation of blackbucks. Usually the species graze on grass and depend on the river for drinking water. The Forest department has constructed a watchtower for their conservation. Besides, a forester and forest guard have been deployed for their protection,” said Suresh Panath, the Regional Chief Conservator of Forest.