In a bid to restore the lost glory of the blackbuck sanctuary at Karanja-Sohol in Washim district, principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) Shree Bhagwan has set up a technical committee.

The sanctuary needs to be restored as a grassland sanctuary. Currently, it has turned into scrub land due to a non-intervention strategy of the wildlife department. Lack of management has forced blackbucks, for which it was notified, to leave the Karanja-Sohol Sanctuary. Forest officials said the blackbuck population is straying outside and affecting agricultural crops in the district.

The issue was raised recently during the 16th birdwatchers' meeting (Pakshimitra Sammelan) at Washim on December 19, 2015. Bhagwan constituted a technical committee to suggest measures for habitat manipulation in order to restore it to a grassland sanctuary.

The five-member committee will be headed by retired additional PCCF (wildlife) Nandkishore. Other members are the Satpuda Foundation, grassland management adviser GD Muratkar, honorary wildlife warden of Akola and chief conservator of forests (CCF) for Yavatmal Circle, who will work as member-secretary of the committee. The entire expense of the panel visits will be borne under 'CAMPA' funds.

The mandate of the committee is to review past grassland management activities and their impact; select areas for habitat manipulation on a scientific basis; suggest works to be implemented in a phased manner; and also suggest other prescriptions for overall management of grasslands.

"This may help to bring blackbuck back inside the sanctuary and provide major relief to farmers around the protected area," said a couple of members.

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