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The blackbucks of the Aravalis
The Times of India, May 28, 2016
The Haryana forest department has embarked on an ambitious plan to create a habitat to reintroduce blackbucks in the Aravalis over an area of 140 hectares in the Sarbasipur reserve forest near Farrukhnagar, around 25km from Gurgaon.
Blackbucks thrived in the Haryana Aravali region about four decades ago, but eventually died out because of change in vegetation into a closed canopy forest (thick forest).The animals prefer grassland forest. The forest department also hopes to introduce other species of the deer family through this initiative.
“The reserve forest is near Sultanapur National Park.Historically, this area was used as a salt pan. After the practice discontinued, the area turned into a scrub forest and later open forest through process of natural succession,“ said a forest department official. “This area was naturally inhabited by blackbucks and nilgais about four decades ago but since the area turned into a closed canopy forest it became unsuitable for the habitation of blackbucks,“ he added.
Blackbucks’ Importance For Bishnois
A preacher called Guru Jambeshwar established the sect. While some believe the term ‘Bishnoi’ is a derivative of Vishnu, the principal deity of the Bishnois, others believe it means twenty (Bish) nine (noi) in a local Rajasthani dialect. This alludes to a list of 29 commandments laid down by Jambeshwar, which all Bishnois are required to follow. They have been known to make many sacrifices for the protection of animals, especially the endangered blackbuck. They can even sacrifice their lives to save this creature.
Importance of Blackbucks
Blackbucks and chinkaras are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, but the Bishnois consider the former as sacred. They follow what is perhaps the world's only environment-friendly religion and recognise the rights of birds, animals and trees to live in peace and harmony with humans. Reports show that 2016, over 1,700 people who were involved in wildlife crimes in Rajasthan were arrested due to the efforts of this community.