Relocated blackbuck thriving in Shuklaphanta
The birth of these three fawns is a great success following the blackbuck translocation to Shuklaphanta in September 2012. This USAID-funded Hariyo Ban activity is a joint effort between the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) and the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC). By gradually building up the numbers of wild blackbuck in the country, the venture is contributing to one of Hariyo Ban’s main objectives, to reduce threats to biodiversity in Nepal.
The blackbuck, commonly known as "Krishnasar", was once abundant in the Indian subcontinent. However, rampant encroachment of its natural habitat and hunting caused the population to dwindle, and blackbuck are now classified as ‘near threatened’ by IUCN. It is for this reason that the partners are making determined efforts to conserve the species.
After the first relocation of blackbuck from Nepalgunj Mini Zoo to Hirapur Phanta, Hariyo Ban also supported DNPWC to translocate six blackbuck from the Central Zoo. Ganga Jung Thapa, NTNC, says, “Prior to translocation, NTNC’s Suklaphanta Conservation Program office conducted community consultation with locals from Jhalari, the village adjoining Hirapur Phanta, regarding the government’s plan to reintroduce blackbuck. The locals were receptive to this, and also suggested conducting development activities in the buffer zone area.”
The blackbuck are thriving in their new settlement, but along with the increase in population, the aggressive males fight among themselves, which may lead to future casualties. To prevent this, work is already underway to expand the enclosure area by 4.4 hectares. In the near future, wild blackbuck bulls will be introduced from the Blackbuck Conservation Area in Bardia in coordination with DNPWC, so that inbreeding is reduced and genetic variation is enhanced.
According to Thapa, long-term plans are on to integrate development activities in areas adjoining the site. He adds, “From the perspective of conservation, our main focus will be to reduce pressure from livestock grazing pressure and fuel-wood consumption. From a developmental perspective, we aim to conduct community engagement activities that will not only align locals to blackbuck conservation but also improve their livelihoods. This is going to be a demonstration project under the Hariyo Ban Program.”
Local people have welcomed the idea of ecotourism and homestay development as a way to generate community income, so the program will explore opportunities for this, as well as income generation through agriculture. Hariyo Ban also plans to support a local Community Based Anti-Poaching Unit, befitting the program’s strategy of combining biodiversity conservation and sustainable livelihoods.
By NTNC and Richa Bhattarai, Communications Associate, Hariyo Ban Program, WWF Nepal
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Disclaimer: The Hariyo Ban Program is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this article are the responsibility of WWF and its consortium partners and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.