Saturday, January 31, 2015

Protected Habitat Being Constructed for Nepal's Blackbuck Conservation

Blackbucks in Nepal's Blackbuck Conservation Area

Action has been recently taken to safeguard blackbucks by building a protected habitat for them at the Blackbuck Conservation Area (BCA) in Nepal's Khairapur district. Narayan Rupakheti, a conservation officer at the BCA, indicated that they were convinced to take such an initiative after forty blackbucks were swept away by floods in mid-August last year. As part of the effort, the habitat area covering a three-hectare area will be raised by three meters from the surface using mud deposits. Mr. Rupakheti further added that tree saplings will be planted in those parts of the conservation area located near the Babai River. Similarly, the road passing through the conservation area will be moved 25 meters east from its current location since the movement of local people and vehicles through the road has forced the blackbucks to migrate in large numbers looking for safer fields for grazing. The Hariyo Ban (Green Forest) Program has allotted Rs. 4.17 million and is anticipated to be finished within the current financial year. The government of Nepal had previously built a ten-kilometer long fence around the area at a cost of Rs. 20 million two years ago and officially proclaimed Khairapur district as Blackbuck Conservation Area on March 16, 2009. Covering an area of 479 hectares, the area is home to 245 blackbucks. Although conservation efforts have been obstructed due to lack of adequate infrastructure, care and habitat for blackbucks, the main problem authorities face for the animals' conservation is how to relocate 93 local families living in the area since 1971. Adding to their anguish, 49 families of illegal settlers have established temporary houses by trespassing in over seven hectares of land belonging to the BCA since 2006.
A male blackbuck

Although it is excellent news that protected habitat is being established for Nepal's blackbucks, there is still a current problem of local people settled in the conservation area and the problem of relocating them. It is crucial to work towards finding adequate substitute land for these people who have been living within the vicinity of the Blackbuck Conservation Area since 1971. This includes coming up with a compromise that would benefit both the local people and authorities working to ensure the survival and well-being of blackbucks. For now, the local residents should live alongside the blackbucks and it is important to ensure that they respect the antelopes by giving them their space and not attempt to retaliate against them when some problem arouses involving blackbucks. These magnificent antelopes are regarded as sacred animals in Hinduism. That is, they represent vahanas of the wind deity Vayu and lunar deities Anumati and Chandra. In order to help protect them, the local residents and authorities should form a joint partnership in looking after these animals and protecting them from poachers.

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