Abohar, December 20
The much awaited census of black buck, blue bull and sambar is likely to start in a week or so in the Abohar black buck sanctuary, spread over 13 villages of this sub-division, dominated by the members of the Bishnoi community, known for its exemplary passion to protect environment and animals.
The Abohar open black buck sanctuary, which covers an area 180.5 square kilometres and only one of its kind in the world, is also considered as the only place in the country where the black buck is found in large numbers.
The last census in this Asia's largest open black buck sanctuary was held in 1998. Though next census was supposed to be conducted in 2003 and then in 2008, it could not be carried out by the authorities concerned due to paucity of funds with the state wildlife department coupled with acute shortage of staff manning it.
"We have engaged volunteers of the National Service Scheme (NSS) from different schools and colleges of the region to assist employees of the wildlife department in conducting the census (survey) of black bucks, blue bull (Neel Gai) and sambar in the sanctuary within a time period of about ten days," said Sanjeev Tiwari, Divisional Forest Officer (Wildlife), Ferozepur.
About 30 staff members of the wildlife department out of a total of 60, who had been deployed at the Hari Ke wetland bird sanctuary, would be pressed into service to carry out the census.
These employees would participate in the exercise during the day time and at night, they would ensure the protection of Hari Ke sanctuary, Tiwari added.
Information gathered by TNS revealed that during the last census, it was found that the number of black bucks in this open sanctuary, which came into existence in 1975, was around 3000.
Though incidents of hunting of black bucks and blue bulls by hunters had come down significantly, these protected animals were being killed by stray dogs frequently.
The menace of stray dogs and reduction of barren land for their habitat, the migration of black buck, blue bull and Sambar to neighbouring Rajasthan had also started taking place in the past two years or so.
Meanwhile, Sanjeev Godara, Member, Punjab State Wildlife Board, demanded that the Central Government must give enough funds to erect fencing alongside the roads criss-crossing the sanctuary to save the animals from being killed in road accidents.