|Spotted deer in Gir Forest National Park|
It has recently been reported that the number of herbivorous animals in Gir Forest National Park have increased by 6.48 percent in the last one year. It was affirmed during a herbivore count carried out by the forest department recently in Gir Forest. Officials indicated that if the figures from the last five years are analyzed, the numbers of herbivores has almost doubled. The count disclosed that there are 79,289 herbivores in Gir Forest including chital (spotted deer), sambar deer, nilgai (blue bull), four-horned antelope (chousingha), chinkara (Indian gazelle), and wild boar. From 2009 to 2010, there were only 38,953 herbivores in Gir Forest. Officials of the forest department indicated that the density of the prey base for Asiatic lions was roughly 79 animals per square kilometer in the national park, where lions were found over 1000 square kilometers of the the total 1412-square kilometer area. In addition, they also revealed that there were 23,326 Hanuman langur monkeys which contradicted the claim made by a group of experts from Madhya Pradesh who submitted in the Supreme Court that there were no monkeys or peacocks in Gir Forest. Furthermore, the number of spotted deer had increased from 32,115 in 2009-2010 to 63,306 in 2013-2014. However, this recent growth is lower than the one from 2012 to 2013 in which herbivore numbers had doubled by 38 percent. That is, their numbers had increased from 53,873 animals in 2011-2012, to 74,455 in 2012-2013. In addition, the numbers of four-horned antelopes and Indian gazelles had not increased as expected and were deemed disappointing. In fact, with the exception of the growth in 2012-2013, the number of four-horned antelopes had been steadily decreasing over the last five years from 1,165 in 2009-2010 to 756 this year.
|The numbers of the four-horned antelope (top) and the Indian gazelle (bottom) were found to have not increased after the recent herbivore count.|
While this may seem like good news to some people, it is extremely important to consider the animals whose numbers had been decreasing steadily in the past few years or so. This was seen in the case of the four-horned antelope and the Indian gazelle in Gir Forest National Park, whose numbers were found to have not increased as expected by forest department officials. Therefore, it is crucial to conduct investigations on what factors may be contributing to the decrease in numbers of these antelopes. The four-horned antelope, known locally as chousingha ("four horns" in Hindi), is the only species of antelope in the world that has two pairs of horns while most species, including the Indian gazelle, have one pair of horns. It is the only antelope that is found nowhere else in the world, but in India and Nepal. The Indian gazelle is one of the most graceful antelopes in the Indian subcontinent along with the blackbuck, which gained public attention as a victim of illegal poaching by Bollywood actor Salman Khan in the late 1990s. Both of these antelope species are under tremendous threat of not only poaching, but also habitat loss, overgrazing, diseases, and even tourism. That is, visitors to any national park where these antelopes are found would gather in large numbers in areas frequented by them for the purpose of viewing and photographing. This mass gathering of tourists disturbs the four-horned antelopes, Indian gazelles, and other animals in India and other parts of the world such that they never have a moment's peace. This is why it is crucial to investigate the decrease in numbers of such animals like the four-horned antelope and the Indian gazelle, in order to determine the cause(s) of this situation and address those problems to the general public.
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