Before the cyclone large blackbuck herds were seen close to human habitations including Bhetanai, Bajraput, Siddhanai, Banabali

The Phailin Cyclone and the continuous rains that followed have led to migration of blackbuck from their normal regions of habitation in Ganjam district.

According to forest officials the good news is that the devastating cyclone and the floods have not led to any major casualty of these endangered deer species. Till now no deaths of blackbuck have been reported from any part of Ganjam district.

Unique behaviour

Speaking to The Hindu, Narayan Chandra Dora, the forest ranger of Aska forest range where a large number of blackbuck live, said the natural habitat of these animals must have saved them from the fury of nature.

The blackbuck shows unique behaviour during rains. When it rains, they prefer to remain in open spaces to enjoy the raindrops rather than entering the dense forests like other animals. During the Phailin Cyclone also these animals were found to be in the open spaces near human habitatatiion. So, the devastation inside the forests due to the cyclone did not harm them in big way. But the cyclone surely did get them panicked, because of which a large number of them seem to have migrated to some places other than their normal dwelling places.

Before the cyclone large blackbuck herds were being seen close to human habitations like Bhetanai, Bajraput, Siddhanai, Banabali etc. But after the cyclone these blackbuck are not being seen in these areas. As per forest officials a few blackbuck are still in these areas but most of these exotic deer seem to have migrated to some other place. “We hope they would return to these places again as for generations blackbuck and humans had a very close relationship in these areas, and due to traditional belief localities used to protect them,” said Mr. Dora.

Migration of blackbuck is not new to this area. Earlier blackbuck used to migrate from Aska and Buguda forest range areas in search of food when their number increased many folds. Blackbuck herds were seen to have migrated to areas near Khallikote and Bhanjanagar last year. So, forest officials are sure that panicked by the cyclone, blackbuck herds must have migrated to some other places inside jungles and they would be located soon.

It may be noted that as per an assessment around 2,800 blackbuck inhabit Aska nd Buguda forest range areas. As per last blackbuck census done in 2010-11, their population was 2181 including 1414 females and 223 young ones. Since generations locals protected these blackbuck due to traditional religious belief. Villagers in this region consider the animal as harbinger of rain. Villagers do not harm them and the blackbucks roam around freely even near the human habitations.