Blackbuck reintroduced to the wild in Nepal



Posted on 27 December 2012  | 
In a joint effort with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) and the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC), the USAID funded Hariyo Ban Program supported blackbuck translocation to Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve. The aim was to establish a viable wild population of blackbuck in Nepal.

The blackbuck (Antilope cervicarpa), also locally known as "Krishnasar", is found in the wild in Nepal in only one place – Khairapur, Bardia. Nineteen blackbucks were first recorded there in 1975. To ensure the survival of this population in 2009 the Government of Nepal declared an area of 172 hectares as the Krishnasar Conservation Area. Today conservation efforts have helped the blackbuck population to increase to 293. Yet, this only surviving wild population is at great risk due to habitat fragmentation; disease from livestock - as their habitat area is interspersed with human settlements and farmland; and inbreeding as this isolated population grew from only a few individuals.

As one of the chief objectives of the Hariyo Ban Program is to reduce threats to biodiversity in Nepal, it helped to support the translocation of blackbuck to Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve where there is a larger area and better habitat for the species. In the first phase of the translocation, a total of 22 animals (6 male and 16 female) were taken from the Nepalgunj mini zoo to Hirapur Phanta in Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve. They are now in a predator-proof fenced area of 7.5 hectares in Hirapur Phanta to enhance their survival before adapting to the wild habitat. The Hariyo Ban Program also supported DNPWC in a second phase translocation, where six blackbucks from the Central Zoo were moved to Hirapur. Blackbucks were recorded in Hirapur area in the 1960s and the area has suitable habitat with well managed short grass.

"The relocated blackbucks have adapted well to the environment and their health looks good. We need to expand the fenced area in the near future for better survival of these blackbucks," says Ganga Jang Thapa, NTNC.

There is a future plan to translocate more blackbucks from Khairapur, Bardia after the relocated Hirapur Phanta area is expanded, so as to increase the genetic diversity of the new population. Longer term plans also involve engaging the local communities in conservation and promoting the site as an eco-tourism.

By NTNC for the Hariyo Ban Program

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 NTNC and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.
Blackbuck being released at Hirapur Phanta – Shuklaphata Wildlife Reserve
Blackbuck being released at Hirapur Phanta – Shuklaphata Wildlife Reserve
© Bishnu Lama / NTNC Enlarge

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