Vol. 2, Issue 6 (2017)
Agriculture crop damage by antelope (Boselaphus tragocamelus) and management strategies: Challenges in India
Author(s): Dr. Meenakshi Meena
Abstract: In India, problems associated with locally overabundant wildlife species have emerged as important management issues for reason of some species losing their natural habitat and adapting themselves to the man-altered situation. Crop-raiding by locally overabundant populations of nilgai antelopes (Boselaphus tragocamelus) has been widely reported in many parts of the country. Due to prolonged breeding activity and lacks of potential predators, numbers of nilgai have increased considerably and become locally overabundant in the states of Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi. The extent of human-nilgai conflict varied from place to place within these states. Nilgai were found to be capable of causing extensive damage to most agricultural crops. Damage to wheat (Triticum aestivum), gram (Cicer arietinum) and mustard (Brassica campestris) crops was caused not only by foraging but also through trampling, resting in field and daily movement of the animals. In low density nilgai areas, losses to wheat, gram and moong (Phaseolus mungo) crops were 20-30%, 40-55% and 40- 45%, respectively. Damage to guar (Cyamopsis tetragonoloba) and cotton (Gossypium arboretum) was 20-35% and 25-40%, respectively. Whereas in high density nilgai areas, damage to wheat, gram and moong was 35-60%, 50-70% and 45-60%, respectively. Mustard was seldom eaten by nilgai but it was damaged by trampling. There were also increased incidences of road mishaps (7-12 cases/state/year) due to vehicular collisions. Though people considered nilgai as a sacred animal, conflict between nilgai and farmers is on the increase, and which is adversely affecting the conservation ideals. Options for damage control and managing nilgai populations are available but each of them has their advantages and limitations. Possible management strategies to reduce crop damage are suggested.