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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 24 July 2024

Blackbucks released into Balukhand-Konark wildlife sanctuary in Odisha's Puri district

Ten blackbucks, six females and the rest males, were taken from the Nandankanan Zoological Park in a special van and released in the sanctuary on Wednesday

Subhashish Mohanty Bhubaneswar Published 21.06.24, 06:25 AM
Blackbucks in a special enclosure at the Balukhand-Konark wildlife sanctuary in Puri

Blackbucks in a special enclosure at the Balukhand-Konark wildlife sanctuary in Puri The Telegraph

Blackbucks, popularly known as “Krushnasara”, which had gone extinct at the Balukhand-Konark wildlife sanctuary in the Konark area of Puri district, will again be part of the sanctuary.

The Odisha government has reintroduced blackbucks in the sanctuary, spread over 87 square miles on the Puri-Konark marine drive, about 10km from Puri town. The sanctuary, home to spotted deer, includes sandy beaches, casuarina trees and cashew plantations.

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The blackbucks are a rare species that had almost become extinct at the sanctuary after the 1999 super-cyclone that hit the coastal belt of Odisha, killing more than 10,000 people and thousands of animals.

Ten blackbucks, six females and the rest males, were taken from the Nandankanan Zoological Park in a special van and released in the sanctuary on Wednesday.

Principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife), Sushant Nanda, posted on X: “In a new world for establishing their home. Reintroduced blackbucks inside Balukhand sanctuary as part of species recovery programme.”

Nanda added: “Balukhand sanctuary will be home to the blackbucks again. It had gone locally extinct from the area since last two decades. As part of species recovery programme, blackbucks are being rewilded from Nandankanan. They will also be translocated from overpopulated Ganjam landscapes.”

Blackbucks are a revered species in parts of Ganjam in southern Odisha, where they are protected not only by wildlife officials but also by common villagers who treat them as “good omen.”

During the summer, villagers keep water buckets outside their houses for the blackbucks to drink. “There have been many instances of these animals destroying crops but going unpunished because of the sentiments attached to it,” said officials.

The 10 blackbucks will remain in a special enclosure for a month at Balukhand to acclimatise themselves. “After the quarantine period of a month is over, they will be released into the forest. We have earmarked around seven acres of land for this purpose. The seven acres have been fenced,” officials said.

The state government has also created a food chain for them by cultivating various types of grass and cereals.

“We do have water sources nearby so they won’t face water scarcity. We have even dug two special ponds where they would find plenty of water and won’t face difficulties. We are taking care of it. We will also keep water buckets at various places,” said officials.

The state plans to release nearly 25 blackbucks in the sanctuary.

“All arrangements have been made for this. However, considering the heatwave, we released only 10 and the rest will be released later. The seven acres of designated land can accommodate more than 50 blackbucks,” an official said.

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