The Keoladeo National Park, formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, has been famous for being the haven of diverse species of birds, indigenous as well as migratory. However, recently, tourists also get to see masses of stray cattle in the protected forests that are apparently abandoned by neighboring villagers, The Times of India reported.
Scientists and ecologists are concerned that this may drive away migratory birds, which are the main tourist attraction in the national park. Authorities are planning to build boundary walls of up to 10 feet to prevent stray cows and bulls from entering the park.
Ajit Uchoi, Bharatpur deputy conservator of forests (wildlife) said that the menace caused by stray cattle is a growing issue. “I have submitted a project estimate of Rs 3-5 crore for raising the height of the park’s boundary wall. The current height of the boundary wall is 7 feet, but there are several places where it is very low because of the undulating landscape. These are the spots through which villagers bring in the animals,” he added.
These animals also pose a safety threat to hundreds of tourists that use the roads in the part for a commute via hired bicycles and rickshaws. The annual footfall in the park is nearly 1.5-2 lakh.
The national park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. Three years before this, the government had banned grazing practices in the area. Aghapur, Mallah, Jatoli, and Barso are the nearby villages from where cattle are brought in on trucks and let loose in the middle of the forest.
Authorities of the park have transferred nearly 200 animals from the protected forest area to ravines around Chambal nearly 100 km away. This has cost forest officials around Rs 100 per head.
Bharatpur boasts of more than 375 avian species, of which 100 are migratory. There are also many mammals in the park including the spotted deer, nilgai, hyenas, and wild boars.
Date: 08 March 2019