Poachers killed 139 blackbucks between 2008-18: RTI data

As many as 139 blackbucks have been killed by poachers in 10 years since 2008, with a maximum 31 in Madhya Pradesh, official figures obtained through the Right to Information (RTI) Act show. Madhya Pradesh is followed by Karnataka, where 25 blackbucks were killed during the period, while Uttar Pradesh follows closely with 24, according to the data shared by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, which comes under the Ministry of Environment and Forests. As many as 108 poachers have been arrested across the country for killing blackbucks between 2008 and 2018, with the maximum 38 in MP, the data stated. Noida-based animals rights activist Ranjan Tomar had sought state wise data on the number of blackbucks killed by poachers since 2008 from the bureau, a statutory body formed to combat organised wildlife crime in the country. Hunting of blackbuck is prohibited in the country under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. Blackbuck population in the country had declined sharply in the 1970s, but it has now increased. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has categorized blackbuck as a least concern species, meaning they do not qualify as threatened, near-threatened or conservation-dependent. Behind MP, Karnataka and UP, Maharashtra reported 21 such killings followed by Rajasthan (12), Andhra Pradesh (10), Gujarat and Haryana (4 each), Odisha (3), Telangana (2), Delhi, Punjab and Tamil Nadu (1 each), the data reveals. However, the number of such poaching incidents have come down in recent years with only two cases being reported in 2018, both from Maharashtra, and two in 2017, one from MP and the other from UP, the data stated. There has been a consistent decline in the number of killings of blackbucks by poachers in recent years. The statistics would be satisfying to any animal and environment enthusiast, Tomar said. The drop appears because of a more active National Green Tribunal and stricter implementation of laws protecting wild animals in their habitat, Tomar, also a lawyer, said.