Madhya Pradesh leaves imprint across the globe in Barasingha conservation

Bhopal : The relocation of Barasingha to Kanha Tiger Reserve is acknowledged as one of the remarkable achievements of wildlife conservation in the world. The number of hard ground Barasingha had come down to just 66 in Kanha. Today the number has grown to around 800 due to the vigorous efforts of the management. This species is included in some of the world’s most endangered wildlife species, owing to the poaching and destruction of habitats.

India had witnessed a very alarming change in the population of Barasingha in the twentieth century. During this time farming was being done in the valleys of Narmada, Mahanadi, Godavari and tributary rivers. The groups of Barasinghas were disintegrated due to biological pressure and they became quite isolated due to fear of commercial and traditional poachers. Due to this, their number kept decreasing rapidly.

In the survey conducted by the Forest Department in the year 1938, there were about 3 thousand Barasinghas in and around Kanha National Park area. After this, the number of Barasinghas continued to decline and in the assessment made in the year 1953 this number gone down to 551 and in the year 1970 to just 66.

This state animal of Madhya Pradesh is now somewhat safe, but Kanha management, considering it not enough, is constantly moving ahead to achieve the management objectives of Barasingha conservation.

With an aim of increasing hard ground Barasingha population, left only in the world in Kanha Tiger Reserve, 7 Barsinghas to Van Vihar National Park, Bhopal and 46 to Satpura Tiger Reserve have been relocated in the recent years and increase in their population has been recorded at these places.

A total of three sub-species of Barasingha are found in India and Nepal in the whole world. In India, the three subspecies Rucervus Duvaucelii, Rucervus Duvaucelii Ranjitasinhi and Rucervus Duvaucelli Brendari are found in Dudhwa and Kaziranga National Parks, Manaas National Park and Kanha National Park respectively.

The habitat of Barasinghas found in Kanha is hard land, whereas the other two species found in the North East and North India live in marshy habitats. Kanha’s Barasingha prefers somewhat swampy places. Hence it is also known as Swamp Dear.

Due to hundreds of years of gradual development and adaptation in Kanha, Barasinghas have accustomed itself to survive in the hard land of the central India. This deer loves water and swampy moist areas. They eat only grass of selected species and have specific shelter, food and reproduction requirements. Their entire life depends on the grasslands. Keeping these characteristics in mind, the Kanha management has achieved tremendous success in increasing its number through its intense efforts.

The constant decline in bio-population of wildlife was worrying and to prevent this, effective speedy efforts were needed to increase the number of Barasingha. Acting on the guidelines of Madhya Pradesh Forest Department, Project Tiger and the Government of India, the steps Kanha management took for conservation of Barasinghas are continuing till today. These efforts include construction of in-situ enclosures, continuous development of sheltering sites, water, marshy areas, preferred meadows as well as shifting to the historic habitat of Barasinghas and the monitoring of the entire biodiversity of the national park etc. Presently, small population biology has become a recognized branch of science. According to this small number of adverse genetic and environmental factors continue to work in small numbers. Therefore, it is very important to have effective management and proper monitoring. Simultaneous death of some animals can also affect the entire bio-number for a long time. Kanha management has also sent some Barasinghas to Bhopal’s National Forest Vihar and Satpura Tiger Reserve to avoid this situation.

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