Thanks to protection and conservation
With efforts for protection and conservation, the Vallanadu Blackbuck Sanctuary (Antelope cervicapra) has witnessed a spike in the blackbucks population in Vallanadu. They are considered endangered and included in Schedule –I of The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
The direct sighting of blackbucks, which are highly sensitive and fastest moving animal in the forest and require enough open grasslands, figured around 160 during the census taken during 2017, according to Srivaikuntam Forest Range Officer C. Nellai Nayagam.
The Vallanadu Blackbuck Sanctuary was formed in 1987 and is the southern-most abode for the animal in India. The sanctuary in Tamil Nadu is one of the few natural habitats for the blackbuck. Apart from Vallanadu, blackbuck sanctuaries were in Point Calimere, Nagapattinam and Guindy National Park, Chennai.
During 2014-15, a total of 146 Blackbucks including 34 male, 79 female and 33 were recorded and it was 124 in the census during -2013-14. The removal of thorny scrubs and regeneration of grasslands under the habitat improvement programme created a significant impact on population growth, he told The Hindu here on Sunday.
Apart from native grasslands, stylograss seeds were sown to promote the grassland extent in hundred hectares among the total sanctuary area sprawling 1,641.21 hectares.
As grazing by domestic animals from buffer villages was controlled, there was no food competition for the blackbucks. Moreover, the presence of water troughs at 15 spots and small water tanks at 15 more places inside the sanctuary were also catering much to needs of the blackbucks and other wild animals such as sambar deer and spotted deer, he said.
For more protective measures, he said permission was sought for tranquilised trapping of feral cattle, which could cause disturbance to the blackbucks in the sanctuary. Some years ago, there was a heavy movement of feral cattle, but now about 150 such cattle were sighted. With the field staff and 10 anti-poaching watchers, patrolling was on at regular intervals to check any illegal activity.
He said trekking was allowed for college going students and other like-minded persons up to six kilometres in the sanctuary, Mr. Nayagam said.