IJLSSR, VOLUME 2, ISSUE 4, JULY-2016:500-505

Research Article (Open access)

Crop Damage by the Blackbuck Antilope cervicapra in and around Chitta Reserve Forest of
Bidar, Karnataka

Mohammed Asif,1 Sanjeevareddy Modse1*
*Department of Zoology, Government First Grade College, Bidar, Karnataka, India

*Address for Correspondence: Dr. Sanjeevareddy Modse, Associate Professor, Department of Zoology, Government First Grade College, Bidar, Karnataka, India
Received: 16 May 2016/Revised: 12 June 2016/Accepted: 29 June 2016

ABSTRACT- The Blackbuck Antilope cervicapra is an herbivore, feeding on a wide range of food plants, preferably of the grass family. They are the animals of open grassland, but frequently raid agricultural fields for food and water. The study was carried out on land use, crop damage and food of Blackbuck at Chitta Reserve Forest of Bidar district in Karnataka. These animals prefer open grassland with patches of forest surrounded by agricultural fields. Direct visual observations were made on the food of the Blackbuck and 46 species of food plants were recorded. The Blackbuck frequently raid the agricultural fields and causes extensive damage. The most affected crops are sugarcane, pigeon pea and vegetables; particularly in summer months.
The farmers in the area are facing loss of cash crops. To prevent the crop raid, fencing the forest area adjacent to the fields, planting greater number of wild food plants and creation of water bodies in the reserve forest is the need of the hour.
Key-words- Blackbuck, land use, crop damage, food plants

INTRODUCTION- The Blackbuck Indian antelope, Antilope cervicapra, is exclusive to the Indian subcontinent, and is one of the most elegant antelope species in India. Its striking sandy colour and beautiful spiralled horns make it un-questionably the most splendid specimen of antelopes. The Blackbuck was once very abundant, but constant persecution by humans has suddenly reduced its num-ber and it is now considered to be a near threatened species. Since the inception of Wildlife Protection Act (1972) and through various management strategies, several of the Wildlife species, both in protected area, reserved forests and surrounding area, are recovering from a general overall decline, while a few have apparently become locally over-abundant and these are simply ecologically dislocated and are posing problems of various degree due to incompatible land use practices. [1]
The Blackbuck is essentially an animal of open, flat, or slightly undulating terrain and reaches its greatest abundance in areas covered with thorn and dry deciduous forests. With the destruction of forests, how-ever, the animal has adapted to wasteland and agricul-tural fields. One of the serious hurdles faced by the farmers is the crop damage by the Blackbuck.
These animals regularly raid on crops, such as Peanut, Wheat, Barley, Millet and Black gram [2-4] In Bhetanoi village of Rajasthan, the average amount of agricultural land left uncultivated in fear of the Bucks is approximately 25% of the total land [5]. Some amount of crop damage was caused by the Blackbuck but it is meagre in comparison with damage caused by cattle, insect pests and poor harvest due to crop diseases [6]. With increased population in some districts, especially in Mehsana, Amreli and Bhavnagar, Blackbuck started damaging agriculture crops. Some villages in these districts have serious problem due to concentrated number [7]. Crop damage by Deer, Nilgai, Blackbuck, Wild Boar and Porcupine has been widely reported from almost all corners of India [8]. In Karera Wildlife Sanctuary, cultivation is done in small patches, separated by waste lands. Most of the crops grown in the segregated fields are damaged by Blackbuck [1]. Crop damage by Blackbuck is one of the major causes of conflict in West Nepal. Each year some people have to bear significant loss caused by these animals. Some 55% of the people of adjoining villages (Salapur, Pataha, Bhariya Gown and Kamaiyamukti Nepal area) reported crop damage by Blackbuck in the surroundings [9].
Blackbuck exists in Bidar, since its hunting was not a crime in India. It is found in good number with second highest population in Karnataka. In the district, the highest population was recorded in Bidar Taluka particularly in Bellur, Zamistanpur, Chitta and Backchowdi villages under Chitta Reserve Forest [10].
The present study mainly evaluates the land use and extent of crop damage, and enumerates the food plants of Blackbuck in the study area.

STUDY AREA - The study on crop damage and feeding activity was conducted in Chitta Reserve Forest and its surrounding areas which has the highest number of Blackbuck population in Bidar District.
The study area is the Chitta Reserve Forest and its surrounding grassland and farmland in Bidar district of Karnataka. It is located on the Deccan plateau between 17 91' North latitude and 77 50 ' East longitude at 669 metre above mean sea level. The climate of the district is generally dry throughout the year, except during the southwest monsoon which continues till the end of September. The month of October and November constitute the post-monsoon or retreating monsoon season. The winter season is from October to January and the temperature begins to fall from the end of November, December is the coldest month with mean daily maximum temperature of 27.3 C and mean daily minimum temperature of 16.4 C. From the middle of February both day and night temperature begins to rise rapidly. May month is the hottest with mean daily maximum temperature of 38.8 C and mean daily minimum of 25.9 C with the withdrawal of southwest monsoon in the first week of October. There is slight increase in day temperature but night temperature falls steadily after October, both day and night temperature falls progressively. The forest in Bidar division consists of dry deciduous and scrub type vegetation. The majority of existing forest of Bidar is manmade forest. The study was carried out in department of Zoology, Government First Grade College, Bidar, Karnataka, India.

MATERIALS AND METHODS- Observations were made on the crop damage and feed-ing activity of the Blackbuck. The study was underta-ken for the first 5 days in a month for one year from January to December, 2014 and recorded the activity of the entire herd by following them from morning till evening, during one year of study the main focus was on the extent of crop damage caused by the Blackbuck in different months and season of the year as well as the identification of food plants and their feeding activity.
The crop damage and land used by the Blackbuck is calculated with the help of map and survey number provided by Tahsildar office of Bidar Taluka. Binoculars (Bushnell 8X48 Magnification) are used for recording the food plants on which the Blackbuck feed. Night vision Binoculars are used for recording the movement and raid of the herd on agricultural fields during night time. Photography is done by Canon 5D Mark II and Power Shot SX 50X HS. Bicycle is used for following the movement of the herd.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION- Observations were made on the feeding pattern, food and the extent of crop damage caused by the Blackbuck in Chitta Reserve Forest. We mainly concentrated on 3 herds with a maximum mean population of 99 animals. The variation in the number was noticed during the study period from January to December, 2014. The lowest number of Blackbuck was found in summer months and the highest number in monsoon (Table 1).

Table 1. Blackbuck population of Chitta Reserve For-est and its surrounding villages area in the year 2014

S. No. Months Population variation
(Mean SD, SE) N=5
1. January 841.12
2. February 692.02
3. March 561.42
4. April 662.8
5. May672.13
6. June77.21.58
7. July811.46
8. August872.37
9. September851.58
10. October992.35
11. November861.09
12. December872.21


The variation in number is due to split in the herd to seek food and water in summer month.
The land use by the Blackbuck is calculated and pre-sented in Table 2.

Table 2. Open land and agricultural land used by Blackbuck in hectare during the study period 2014

>
Sl. No. Name of the Village Open land Agriculture land Total land used
01 Bellur 8.0 8.6 16.6
02Backchowdi2.4 8.210.6
03 Zamistanpur 1.6 4.2 5.8
04 Yedlapur 1.6 6.8 8.4
05 Amlapur 0.8 6.8 7.6
06 Mailoor 0.8 10.6 11.4
Total
15.2 45.2 60.4


They used 45.2 hectare of agricultural land and 15.2 hectare of open grassland. It is evident that the Blackbuck uses more agricultural land than grassland in the study area. As far as village-wise crop damage is concerned, the Bellur fields are the most affected (16.6 ha) followed by Mailoor (11.4 ha) and Backchowdi (10.6 ha).
The Blackbuck feeds on a wide range of food plants preferably of the grass family. They cause considerable damage to the agricultural crops adjacent to the grassland and forest [2-4]. We recorded 46 species of food plants on which the Blackbuck feeds. Among these 30 species are wild trees and grass, 6 species are agricultural crops and 10 species are vegetables. They feed on grass and leaves of wild trees, almost all types of vegetables and agricultural crops grown in the area (Table 3).

Table 3. Food plants of Blackbuck found in Chitta Reserve Forest and its surrounding villages in 2014

S. No. Common name Local name Scientific name
Wild Trees
01 Malabar nut Adusogae Justicia adhatoda
02 Benghal dayflower Hittagani Commelina benghalensis L.
03 Dill leaves Sabbasigge Anethum graveolens
04 Mauritian grass Akku hullu Apluda mutica
05 Carry cheddie Kakegida Canthium parviflorum Lam.
06 Lemon grass Nimbe hullu Cymbopogon martini
07 Dwarf morning glory Vishnykranti Evolvulus alsinoides
08 Indian chickweed Jharasi Mollugo pentaphylla
09 Potato plant Chippulinelli Phyllanthus reticulatus L.
10 False button weed Guthari Spermacoce articularis
11 Coat button Baramasi Tridax procumbens L.
12 Nut grass Mugatisoppu Vicoa indica
13 Babul Babli mara Acacia Arabica
14 Lead tree Subabul Leucaena leucocephala
15 Bermuda grass Karki Cynodon dactylon
16 Crow foot grass Makri Dactyloctenium aegyptium
17 Spiny Amaranth Mulladantu Amaranthus spinosus
18 Candle brush Sheemigida Cassia alata
19 Sickle pod Chagate Cassia tora L.
20 Jews Mallow Chunchalligida Corchorus olitorius
21 Lilac tassel flower Nachike mullu Emilia sonchifolia
22 Cats hair Achchegida Euphorbia hirta L.
23 Indian sarsaparilla Sogade Beru Hemidesmus indicus
24 Spear grass Kareya shimpige Heteropogon contortus
25 Asian indigo Kennegillu Indigofera glandulosa
26 Creeping launaea Hattrakipalle Launae procumbens L.
27 Common leucas Tumbe gida Leucas aspera L.
28 False mallow Sannabindige Malvastrum coromandelianum
29 Agumaki Madras Pea Pumpkin Mukia maderaspatana
30 Country mallow Hirethutti Sida cordifolia
Crops
31 Sugarcane Kabbu Saccharum officinarum L.
32 Paddy Bhatta Oryza sativa L.
33 Soyabean Soya Glycine max
34 Jawar Jola Sorghum vulgare
35 Maize Mekkejola Zea mays L.
36 Wheat Godhi Triticum aestivum L.
Vegetables
37 Tomato Tamate kai Lycopersican esculentum
38 Onion Ulagadde Allium cepa L.
39 Potato Alu gadde Solanum tubersum
40 Cauliflower Hu kosu Brassica oleracea
41 Pigeon pea Togare Cajanus cajan
42 Sun flower Suryakanti Helianthus annuus
43 Brinjal Badane kai Solanum melongena
44 Zinger Alla Zinger officinale L.
45 Chilli Menasin kai Capsicum annuum L.
46 Cowpea Alsandi Vigna unguiculata


These animals invariably invade the fields every day either for food or water. The farmers in the study area are facing significant crop damage by the Blackbuck. The same problem is with the people of Bhetanoi village in Rajasthan where the Blackbuck raids on crop such as Peanut, Wheat, Barley, Millet and Black gram [1, 4].
The month-wise and area-wise crop damage was assessed (Table 4 & 5).
Table 4. Month and Village wise crop damage by Blackbuck in hectare during the study period 2014

Month Crops Bellur Backchowdi Zamistanpur Yedlapur Amlapur Mailoor Total
Jan Sugar cane 00 0.4 0.6 00 00 0.4 1.4
Vegetables 00 00 00 1.0 00 1.0 2.0
Maize 00 00 00 00 1.0 00 1.0
Feb Sugar cane 0.2 0.2 0.2 00 00 0.2 0.8
Vegetables 0.2 00 00 0.2 0.2 1.0 1.6
March Sugar cane 1.2 1.2 0.8 0.4 0.8 0.8 5.2
Vegetables 0.2 0.2 00 00 00 0.4 0.8
Maize 00 00 00 00 0.8 00 0.8
April Sugar cane 1.6 1.6 0.8 1.2 0.8 1.6 7.6
Vegetables 0.4 0.4 00 0.2 00 0.8 1.8
Maize 00 00 0.2 00 00 00 0.2
May Sugar came 1.6 1.6 0.4 1.2 0.8 1.6 7.2
Vegetables 0.4 0.4 00 0.4 00 0.4 1.6
Maize 00 00 0.2 00 00 00 0.2
June Sugar cane 0.2 0.4 0.2 1.0 0.8 0.4 3.0
Vegetables 00 00 00 0.2 00 00 0.2
July Sugar cane 0.2 0.2 0.2 00 00 00 0.6
Vegetables 00 00 00 00 0.2 0.2 0.4
Aug Vegetables 00 00 0.2 0.2 00 00 0.4
Maize 00 00 00 00 00 0.2 0.2
Pigeon pea 00 0.4 00 0.2 00 0.2 0.8
Jowar 0.4 0.2 00 00 00 00 0.6
Paddy 0.4 0.2 00 00 00 00 0.6
Soyabean 00 00 0.2 00 0.2 00 0.4
Sept Vegetables 0.2 00 00 00 00 00 0.2
Maize 0.2 0.2 00 00 00 0.2 0.6
Soyabean 0.2 00 00 00 00 0.2 0.4
Pigeon pea 0.2 00 00 00 0.4 00 0.6
Oct Vegetables 00 0.2 00 00 00 00 0.2
Maize 0.2 0.2 00 0.2 00 0.2 0.8
Pigeon pea 0.2 0.4 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 1.4
Nov Vegetables 0.2 0.2 00 00 00 00 0.4
Maize 00 00 00 00 00 0.2 0.2
Pigeon pea 00 00 00 00 0.2 00 0.2
Wheat 00 00 00 0.2 00 00 0.2
Dec Vegetables 00 0.2 0.2 00 00 0.2 0.6
Total
8.6 8.2 4.2 6.8 6.8 10.6 45.2


Table 5. Crop damage by Blackbuck in hectare during the study period 2014

Crops Months
J F M A M J J A S O N D Total
Sugar cane 1.4 0.8 5.2 7.6 7.2 3.0 0.6 00 00 00 00 00 25.8
Vegetables 2.0 1.6 0.8 1.8 1.6 0.2 0.4 0.4 0.2 0.2 0.4 0.6 10.2
Maize 1.0 00 0.8 0.2 0.2 00 00 0.2 0.6 0.8 0.2 00 4.0
Pigeon pea 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 0.8 0.6 1.4 0.2 00 3.0
Jowar 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 0.6 00 00 00 00 0.6
Paddy 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 0.6 00 00 00 00 0.6
Soyabean00 00 00 00 00 00 00 0.4 0.4 00 00 00 0.8
Wheat 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 0.2 00 0.2
Total 4.4 2.4 6.8 9.6 9.0 3.2 1.0 3.0 1.8 2.4 1.0 0.6 45.2


The highest crop damage was noticed in the month of April (10.2 ha) followed by May (9.2 ha) and March (6.8 ha). The t- test showed that the crop damage is highly significant (P?0.02) in summer season than winter and monsoon (Table 6a & 6b).

Table 6 a. Season-wise crop damage (paired sample statistics) in the study area 2014

Season Mean in hectare N Std. Deviation Std. Error
Summer 7.65 4 2.85 1.42
Monsoon 1.55 4 0.62 0.31
Winter 2.10 4 1.72,/td> 0.86


Table 6 b. Paired Sample Test

Season Paired difference
Mean Std. Deviation Std. Error 95% Confidence
interval of the
difference
t df Significant (2-tailed)
Lower Upper
Summer and
Monsoon
6.1000 2.70555 1.35277 1.7949 10.4051 4.509 3 .020
Monsoon and Winter 5.5500 3.27567 1.63783 .3377 10.7623 3.389 3 .043
Winter and Summer -.5500 2.07445 1.03722 -3.8509 2.7509 -.530 3 .633
P >0.02

According to [11] the Blackbuck occasionally needs drinking water, but our observation shows that they need water frequently in summer season because the summer is very hot and most of the water sources are dried up in the study area. The grassland also is completely dried. Hence, the hot conditions force the Blackbuck to invade the agricultural fields for water and food. Table 5 shows that the most damaged crop in the area is sugarcane (25.8 ha) and vegetables crop (8.4 ha). The Blackbuck prefers tender sugarcane crop which is more abundant in summer months (Figure 1). They also cause significant damage to Maize (4.0 ha) Pigeon pea (3.0 ha) as shown in Figure 2. They feed on these two crops right from sapling to fruiting stage. The most preferred crop of the Blackbuck is sugarcane. The reason may be that sugarcane belongs to grass family.

                       
        Figure 1. Sugarcane crop at the early stage damaged by                                                                     Figure 2. Pigeon pea crop damaged by Blackbuck 2014
                        Blackbuck 2014


Considering the village-wise crop damage, as given in Table 4 the Mailoor fields are more affected (10.6 ha) followed by Bellur (8.6 ha) and Backchowdi (8.2 ha). In these villages the major crops grown are sugarcane and vegetables. They are in close vicinity of forest. The Blackbuck gains easy entry into these fields.

CONCLUSION- The present study reveals the extent of crop damage caused by the Blackbuck in different villages under Chitta Reserve Forest. Sugarcane pigeon pea and vegetables are the most affected crops. The Blackbuck raiding is common in summer months as these animals face scarcity of food and water in their natural habitat. To prevent the crop raid, fencing the area, planting the wild food plants and creation of water bodies in the reserved forest is the need of the hour.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT- I am grateful to my research supervisor Dr. San-jeevareddy Modse, Associate Professor and Head, Department of Zoology, Goverment First Grade College, Bidar. Without his guidance and research knowledge, this work could not have been accomplished. My sincere thanks are due to Gulbarga University, Kalaburagi for selecting me as a research student in the department of Zoology. I thank the Principal of Govt. First Grade College, Bidar for providing me facilities for research, I also thank Karnataka Forest Department, Bangalore and Deputy Conservator of Forests, Bidar for granting me permission to conduct research work on the Blackbuck in Bidar forest. My sincere thanks are due to the Tahsildar, Bidar for providing information on survey numbers and the map of the study area. I also thank the farmers for providing input on crop damage.

REFERENCES:

  1. Chauhan N. P. S. and Sawarkar V. B. Problems of over-abundant population of Nilgai and Blackbuck in Haryana and Madhya Pradesh and their management. Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun The Indian Forester, 1989; 64: pp 488 493.
  2. Prasad, N. L. N. S. Home range, dispersal and movement of Blackbuck Antilope cervicapra population in relation to seasonal change in Mudmal and environs. Ph.D dissertation, Saurashtra University, Rajkot, India 1981.
  3. Jhala Y. V. Seasonal effects on the nutritional ecology of Blackbuck Antilope cervicapra. Journal of Applied Ecology, 1997; 34: pp 1348-1358.
  4. Manakadan, R. and Rahmani, A. R. Crop damage by Blackbuck Antilope cervicapra at Rollapadu Wildlife Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh Society. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 1998; 95: pp 408-417.
  5. Bikash Rath Y. and Giri Rao. Studies in protected area Bhetanoi-Balipadara Blackbuck Habitat. Vasundhara14/E, Gajapati Nagar, Po: Sainik School Bhubaneswar 2005.
  6. Das U. K. and Kar S. K. Study on the habitat use and foraging pattern of Blackbuck Antilope cervicapra in Balipadar-Bhetnoi Blackbuck reserve Gunjam District, Odisha-India. E-planet 2005; 9 (2): pp 42 - 49.
  7. Singh H. S. Antelopes and Gazelles distribution and population status in Gujarat, India. Gujarat Ecological Education and Research foundation. The Indian Forester, 2001; 84: pp 1099 1104.
  8. Schultz, B. O. The management of crop damage by wild animals. The Indian forester, 112 1986; 10: pp 891-899.
  9. Shiv Raj Bhatta. People and Blackbuck: Current management challenges and opportunities, Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Babarmahal, Kathmandu, Nepal 2008: pp 17 21.
  10. Mohammed Asif and Sanjeevareddy modse, The Distribution Pattern and Population of Blackbuck Antilope cervicapra Linnaeus in Bidar, Karnataka. The Indian Forester, 2016; 142: 8 (In press).
  11. Jhala Y. V. Giles R. H., Jr., and Bhagwat A. M. Water in the eco-physiology of Blackbuck. Journal of Arid Envi-ronments, 1991; 22: pp 261-269.