After Black Panther, Endangered Nilgai Spotted In Odisha’s Sundargarh

Rourkela: Three years after a black panther (a genetic variant of Indian leopard) was spotted in Garjanpahad reserve forest of Hemgiri range in Odisha’s Sundargarh district, another endangered species has been spotted in Bagdega reserve forest in Bisra Forest Range under the Rourkela Forest Division.

According to the Forest Department, for the time in Odisha, a herd of Nilgais (literally meaning blue cow), was spotted in the reserve forest.

Spread over 430 acres in the plain areas, Bagdega reserve forest is surrounded by Bagdega, Ghodabandha, Khairtola, Jamaberna, Tangarpalli, Garda, Relaposa and Mandap villages and people frequent the forest to collect forest produce.

In 2017, the people of some of these villages had spotted the movement of two Nilgais. Although it was not clear from where the two species had strayed into the reserve forest, the Forest Department had said that the species might have come from the forest areas of the neighbouring Jharkhand.

Three weeks back, a Nilgai calf had strayed into Ghodabandha village. However, the Forest staff had safely escorted it back to the forest.

According to Rourkela DFO Yashobant Sethi, the number of the Nilgai in Bagdega reserve forest has gone up to 10.

“As the Nilgai is protected under Schedule III of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, the Forest guards have kept a close watch on them. The people of the periphery villages have been made aware of these species and all arrangements have been made to ensure their good health,” he added.

The DFO further said that Nilgais prefer to remain in plain forest areas and since grass is their staple food, they will never stray into human habitations. The reserve forest has become their ideal habitat, he added.

Sethi said efforts are on to install camera traps in different areas of the reserve forest to track their movement.

Being the largest Asian antelope, Nilgais are found across the northern Indian subcontinent. These diurnal (active mainly during the day) animals band together in three distinct kinds of groups: one or two females with young calves, three to six adult and yearling females with calves, and all-male groups with two to 18 members.

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