MAIDENHALLI: All is not well at the Jayamangali Conservation Reserve, an exclusive habitat for blackbucks, which is an endangered species of antelope.
The recent blackbuck census conducted by the Wildlife Aware Nature Club (WANC), in association with the state Forest Department at Karnataka’s premier blackbuck reserve, has shown a drastic 45 per cent decline from the previous 463 in 2009 to 257 in February this year.
Earlier too, between 2002 and 2009, a decline by 25 per cent had been witnessed. The Jayamangali Blackbuck Conservation Reserve at Maidenhalli in Madhugiri taluk was once a haven for the great Indian blackbuck, the most elegant of all antelopes, but, today their declining numbers indicate the rampant problems of conservation in this exclusive reserve.
Rejecting the census report submitted by WANC, Tumkur DFO, Vijay Kumar told Express that they will conduct their own survey as the present census does not depict the correct figure and needs to be verified, as the absence of animals in the reserve is a temporary phenomenon and they would return soon.
“There is no fixed boundary and the blackbucks may have migrated in search of food and water as this reserve cannot support this size of blackbuck population,” the DFO added.
On the other hand, T V N Murthy, WANC head and honorary wildlife warden, Tumkur district says, “The census was not done by us alone, as every survey group had one Forest Department staff. We are not saying all the blackbucks are dead and gone, but a lot more needs to be done for conservation like habitat improvement, acquisition of additional land, stoppage of illegal entry into the reserve and an end to expansion of the vineyards,” stresses Murthy.
WANC has submitted its recommendations to the authorities, including equipping the two guards manning the 798-acre-reserve with vehicles, weapons and wireless systems.