Thursday, February 4, 2010

Velavadar Black Buck National Park Bhavnagar Junagadh District News Gujarat India

Wildlife lovers have a reason to cheer. For, a recent population count of blackbucks in Velavadar Black Buck National Park (BBNP) has reported a 10 per cent increase in its number, which was once down to as low as 200 in the region.

The population estimation of the majestic wild animal -- one of the schedule I endangered species in the country -- was conducted on January 30-31 by forest department.

According to forest department officials, there were 3,950 blackbucks reported, which is 10 per cent higher than 2005's census figure of 3,590.

Conservator of forests, Junagadh Circle (Wildlife), MM Sharma told TOI, "The reason behind the increase in population is due to proper protection of wild animals and increased protected area."

Furthermore, it's noteworthy that among the 3,950 animals, 2,308 numbers have been reported from outside the national park area and in ecological zones. In the 2005 census, 2,183 were reported out of the national park.

"There are 22 ecological zones where there is significant presence of blackbucks. This time, we have included three new ecological zones, where these species have been found regularly. We consider these out of the park population in the ecological zones. They may visit frequently to these zones. However, we can't say that they have migrated from the park," said assistant conservator of forests, BBNP JS Solanki.

"Apart from the flagship species, that is the blackbuck; Indian grey wolf and striped hyena were also sighted here more than often. In this landscape, wolves are apex predators. Wolves rely primarily on blackbucks in this area for food, which constitute about 80 to 90 per cent of their diet. The park also supports good population of striped hyena. The hyenas are considered scavengers. The presence of these animals is the indicator of health of ecological system," Solanki said. In the current census, 13 wolves and six hyenas were sighted.

The BBNP at Velavadar is known across the globe for its largest concentration of blackbucks in one area. Once upon a time, the blackbuck population had reduced to just 200 due to various factors. Subsequently, 34.52 sq km area was declared as a national park in 1976 to conserve the species and its habitat.

"This rising number of blackbucks shows the protection of wild animal by forest department and good will from surrounding people as they are the one who help protect this magnificent animal," said Shivbhadrasinhji Gohil, a member of royal family of erstwhile princely Bhavnagar State and an ardent nature lover.

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