Blackbuck reintroduced to the wild in Nepal

 

On 18th and 20th September 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.  Nine blackbuck 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 were taken from the Nepalgunj mini zoo to Hirapur Phanta in Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve. Among them 8 (3 male and 5 female) were released on 18th September 2012 and remaining 14 (3 male and 11 female) were released on 20th September 2012. They are now in a predator-proof fenced area of 7.5 hectares  in Hirapur Phanta to ensure  their survival before adapting to the wild habitat. Blackbuck were recorded in this area in the 1960s and has suitable environment with well managed short grass.
The Hariyo Ban Program is also planning to support DWNPC  in  a second phase,  when eight blackbuck from the Central Zoo  and a few  additional males from the Blackbuck Conservation Area  in Bardia will join those already in Suklaphanta to  increase the genetic diversity of the new population.

Disclaimer: 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.