With an eclectic population of wildlife to its credit at the national level, Karnataka is just a step away from getting yet another wildlife sanctuary. Soon, the state will get its first wildlife sanctuary for Chinkaras (gazelles). Caught between the demand of declaring two separate forest patches in Bagalkot district and Tumakuru district as the first-ever Chinkara Wildlife Sanctuary, the department has finally taken a decision in favour of Bagalkot district.
As a result, 100 sq.km area comprising nine villages in Bilagi and Mudhol taluks of Bagalkot district will come under the purview of the Chinkara sanctuary. Sources in the forest department revealed that the proposed sanctuary would be the 25th wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka declared to protect the population of wildlife belonging to a particular species. Confirming the formation of a separate sanctuary for Chinkaras, Vinay Luthra, principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) told Bangalore Mirror that soon, the area will be declared as a Chinkara sanctuary.
“The proposal to declare the region so has been pending before the department for long. We have gone through the proposal and the government has also given its nod to the formation of the new sanctuary. The proposal will formally be placed before the chief minister-headed state wildlife board soon and an official approval will be obtained,” Luthra clarified.
Meantime, there has also been a demand by various wildlife activists and groups to declare Bukkapatna region spread across 200 sq.km area near Tumakuru adjoining NH-4 as a Chinkara sanctuary as it is bigger than the Bagalkot location. Though the government was eager to declare Bukkapatna as a Chinkara sanctuary, there was no report by district forest officials in this regard.
A senior forest officer told, “The Tumakuru DFO is yet to submit a report about the population of Chinkaras at Bukkapatna. Only then will approval be taken from the government and placed for clearance before the Wildlife Board. The proposal had only come from Bagalkot and accordingly, the project has been okayed and awaiting a nod by the Wildlife Board.” Bagalkot district, with its vast stretch of grassland terrain, had a substantial number of Chinkaras for which cameras were deployed to asses their population. Similarly, Bukkapatna too turned out to be the only place in Karnataka housing all three species of the Indian Gazelle – Blackbucks, Four-horned antelope and Chinkaras, which was revealed by researchers of Nature Conservation Foundation during their camera trap study on leopards a few months ago.
Since then, many had urged the department to declare Bukkapatna as the Chinkara sanctuary. However, quick action by forest officials of Bagalkot helped the district become home to the first-ever wildlife sanctuary for Chinkaras in the state. Even though researchers and forest department officials had well documented the population of blackbucks and antelopes across north Karnataka region, very less was known about the population of Chinkaras.
So all we can say is “Well done to Forest Officials of Bagalkot”