Seven blackbucks die mysteriously: Foresters shocked

Seven blackbucks die mysteriously: Foresters shocked
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The mysterious death of the blackbucks within a week in Koppal district, left the forest department and wildlife conservationists in shock

Bangaluru: The mysterious death of the blackbucks within a week in Koppal district, left the forest department and wildlife conservationists in shock. The cause of the deaths remains a mystery. While the department says it has note seven blackbuck deaths near Betageri and Alavandi villages in the district, wildlife lovers and local farmers say the hard number is more than 20. Trials from the carcasses have been sent to Bangalore for tests.According to the forest department, on September 26, five blackbucks, including three females, were found dead near Alavandi.

Wildlife enthusiasts tell blackbucks invading farmlands, especially maize fields, are common in the district. “In the past few weeks, in order to save crops from the Fall armyworm, farmers have been spraying insecticide. The blackbucks may have died because of the harmful chemicals. There could also be cases of poisoning by farmers to keep them at bay,” said a wildlife enthusiast.PR Badri Prasad, entomologist, Agricultural Extension

On October 5, two more carcasses were dappled near Betageri.A wildlife enthusiast said the forest department isn’t serious about probing the cause. “When the first five blackbuck deaths were reported, the department said they were caused due to lightning. Only after two more deaths came to the fore were carcass samples sent for lab tests. The number cannot be just seven. Our interactions with farmers reveal more blackbucks have died in the last one week. The number could be over 20,” he added.

Education Centre, Koppal, said Phorate, an insecticide, the use of which is likely to be banned in India by this year-end, is being sprayed beyond allowable limits. “However, one should wait for the lab results to check the impact of insecticide on blackbucks,” he added.

Yashpal Ksheerasagar, deputy conservator of forests, Koppal said they have sent carcass samples to the Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals, Bangalore, to learn the cause: “As of now, there seems to be no foul play. In the first instance, the death of five blackbucks, we couldn’t recover the samples as the carcasses had decomposed. There was heavy rain and lightning prior to the deaths and the carcasses bore burn marks. Samples from the second case have been sent for lab tests.”

Indrajit Ghorpade, honorary wildlife warden, Koppal, said there is an absence of coordination between the forest department, police and the district administration in dealing with wildlife-related crimes, especially those concern to blackbucks. “Poaching of blackbucks and other wild animals is rampant in Koppal. Nobody cares. The forest department’s claim that the district has a healthy blackbuck population is false. Only a census can show the ground reality,” he said.

In Karnataka is home to 10,000 blackbucks, most of which are found in two preserved areas — Ranebennur of Haveri district and Madhugiri of Tumakuru district.

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