- Blackbucks are herbivore antelope species usually found in open grasslands, dry scrub areas and thinly forested areas.
- Its predators include Feral dogs, wolf, Hyena, Jackal, Wild Pigs etc. (Cheetah, when found in India, was the important predator of Blackbuck).
- In India, they are found in arid and semi-arid short grass plains of Punjab, Haryana, parts of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat up to Tamil Nadu.
- India has 95% of the Blackbuck population. Some Blackbucks are also found in arid areas of Nepal and Pakistan.
- As a result of large scale conversion of grasslands for agriculture and habitat fragmentation, the Blackbuck population is on the decline.
- Thus, IUCN included Blackbuck under ‘Near Threatened’ status in the Red List.
- Given the declining number, Blackbuck is included in Schedule 1 list of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, being accorded highest protection.
Important sanctuaries in India
- The Velavadar Blackbuck National Park, Gujarat has the highest number of blackbucks.
- Other importance sanctuaries include Tal Chhapar Blackbuck Sanctuary, Rajasthan, Point Calimere Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu, Rehekuri Blackbuck Sanctuary, Maharashtra, Bishnoi-dominated areas in Haryana and Punjab.
- Except in Rajasthan, their habitat coincides with the habitat of Great Indian Bustard.
Abohar wildlife sanctuary in Punjab seeing decline in population:
- Blackbuck presence in Punjab is confined to Abohar wildlife sanctuary (AWS) due to the unique habitat of semi-arid plains consisting agricultural fields, intermittent fallow-barren lands, scattered sand dunes, sand mounds and ridges.
- In AWS, the land in mainly owned by the Bishnoi community, and they protect the Blackbuck with great zeal.
- Despite that, due to various reasons like habitat fragmentation, barbed fences and attacks by stray dogs, the population of Blackbucks in on the decline.
Reasons for decline
- Habitat destruction and Habitat fragmentation as a result of land-use change to agriculture.
- Attacks by stray dogs
- Urbanisation and increasing automobiles leading to road accidents
- Falling into water storage tanks, and concrete drains
- Fencing of agricultural lands with barbed wire especially ‘cobra wires’ – into which the blackbucks run into when chased by dogs and get trapped and seriously injured
Section : Environment & Ecology