Officers busy with trees, blackbuck census can wait

NOIDA: The latest census on the number of blackbucks in the district will be delayed as the forest department has not yet completed the counting exercise due to lack of staff, the department informed TOI on Monday. claimed that a majority of the workforce have been diverted to mapping and counting trees on a 2, 500 hectare land stretch identified for Jewar airport.

The census was scheduled to come out in October. It could be vital for tracking poaching activities in the region.

There are around 10 habitats in Greater Noida and during the last count in 2013, there were 122 of these endangered species present at these grassy fields. There is no data available with the forest department to state whether the blackbuck population in Gautam Budh Nagar has increased or decreased since that time. Over last one month, three cases of unnatural deaths and poaching have been reported from Masoodpur village in Rabupura alone. Rabupura lies at a distance of 20 km from Jewar.

“We will conduct the census as soon as the tree mapping work is completed in Jewar. Three blackbuck deaths have been reported from Masoodpur in one month. A month ago, a poaching attempt was detected. Next, a blackbuck was killed by wild dogs and on November 24, a poaching attempt had been stalled, though a blackbuck was killed. Departmental investigation has been started and police are also probing the matter. Blackbucks are timid creatures and die easily because of heart attacks when they sense threat. We have started patrolling the region at night for which we have asked for police cover of the guards on duty,” said P K Srivastava, district forest officer (DFO) of Gautam Budh Nagar.

According to experts, blackbucks in Gautam Budh Nagar have been suffering because of vanishing grasslands. They are also often attacked by wild dogs and hit by vehicles while trying to cross roads. Poaching also poses a major threat to their population.

In India, hunting of blackbucks is prohibited under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.

Being a protected species and listed under International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the punishment for killing a blackbuck is five of imprisonment along with Rs 10,000 as fine under Section 51 of the Act.

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