Dry Land Habitat Goes Dry; Animals Pushed Towards Extinction

Southern News / Karnataka / India


newindpress.com / June 9, 2005
Bangalore: Not even a century ago, the plains in the foot of infamous Gopalaswamy hills near Gundlupet was a hunting ground for Cheetahs, which are now extinct in India.

Slowly, the human invasion and expansion of agricultural activities took toll over the dry land habitat and like in other part of India, the magnificent hunter was pushed to extinction.

While the Cheetahs are gone, there are a lot of other dry land animals still managed to survive in small pockets. However, only few habitats like Dorji Bear sanctuary, Ranebennur black buck sanctuary, Arbitittu, Melkote Wolf Sanctuary and Maidenahalli have been declared as protected areas. In other areas, these animals are left at the mercy of local people.

In 1983, the sleepy taluk of Pavaghada in Tumkur district, hit the headlines. Wolves in the taluk , allegedly preyed on seven children in a row. The State Government and local hunters responded to the situation and killed not less than 13 wolves. Since then, no one has bothered to know about wolves in the region.

According to forest department statistics, every forest in the state has wolves, but no one have sighted them. Most of the sightings have taken place in arid districts like Tumkur, Chitradurga, Raichur, Bellary, Kolar and Mandya. While the advent of irrigation has pushed them towards drier region in plane lands. Even there, they are hunted down, pushing them to brink of extinction.

The other endangered animals include Hyenas, which were once found abundant in the State, especially around the forests. Now, they are found in only few places like in the foot hills of Western ghats. The other animals pushed to corner include Indian fox, jackal, black buck, Great Indian Busterd and even the National bird peacock are not spared in the plane lands.

These animals live in shrub and rocky jungles, which are found in the plane region. While irrigation has ruined most of these jungles, dry land agriculture and horticulture has further denuded them. The other reasons for losing animals include ritual hunting practised in many places, poaching and human-wildlife conflicts.

Worst part is that no concrete study has been conducted over the dry land habitat, which is fast moving towards extinction. Neither the animals dwelling in these habitats and the pressures faced by them is cared for. The forest department hardly has any policy to protect these animals, though they are part of schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
In the current trend, it is matter of time when most of the animals dwelling in dry land habitat go Cheetah way