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India - Blackbucks damage large tracts of Bengal gram

At a time when every thing was going good for farmers, blackbucks intruded the fields and devastated large tracts of the Bengal Gram in Hiriyur.

Farmers of Dharmapura Hobli which shares its borders by Andhra Pradesh are the worst-hit. They are unable to do anything for the fear the stringent wildlife laws in place. Meanwhile, forest officials maintain that they have already issued compensation to farmers so far.

Farmers allege that antelopes have arrived in large numbers after their habitat in Kudhapura, Dodda Ullarthy and Varavu Kavals was fenced by the science institutions leaving no space for these grass-eating species. In a bid to find new pastures, these animals moved towards Dharmapura hobli.

With farmers growing this low cost crop that can yield even in the morning mist without water in large tracts of land, it’s very difficult for them to drive blackbucks away and save their crops. Apart from Challakere taluk, Andhra Pradesh is also having a large presence of blackbucks. Chirapatahalli of Madakashira Hobli in Anantapur district is also a hub of blackbucks.

Speaking to The New Indian Express, Srinivas, a farmer from Hoovinahole, said: “We are not bothered about pests and diseases as they can be controlled by spraying pesticides. How can we control these wild animals. If any incident takes place in our fields, we will be held responsible by the forest department. Forest officials can even arrest us under the Wildlife Act.”

He charged that forest officials are not at all patrolling the area to drive away blackbucks from the region. “The problem has aggravated this year after we sowed Bengal Gram in about 30 acres. I doubt the harvest as large extent of corp is already damaged,” he said. Another farmer Obalappa said blackbucks arrive in batches and each batch consist of 20-30 animals.

Basavaraj, an advocate and a wildlife enthusiast, said the forest department should set up a blackbuck sanctuary in the region and conserve the antelopes. There should also be a strict monitoring by a separate set of officials, he added.

Deputy conservator of forests Chandrashekhar Naik said that the region is a natural habitat for blackbucks and the area is spread across Ballari, Chitradurga and Tumakuru districts. This is the first time crop damage has been reported and we are going to compensate for the loss on the basis of the survey report submitted by the range forest officer, he said.

Range forest officer Sriharsha said, “We have collected details of the crop loss and also inspected the spots. Compensation would be handed over to farmers within 15-30 days of reporting of the incident.”

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