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Scores of blackbucks flee flood-hit islands in the Godavari

Scores of Indian antelopes (blackbuck-antilope cervicapra) fled from the islands in river Godavari and its branches as their habitations have been flooded downstream of Sir Arthur Cotton (SAC) barrage in Andhra Pradesh. 

Pichuka Lanka near the SAC barrage is home to a large number of blackbucks. Nearly 51 islands have been affected by the Godavari flood, which made the officials evacuate people from the islands. However, there was apparently no plan to rescue wildlife as it was not considered viable for various conservation reasons. 

Being acquainted with the local environment and human habitations, scores of blackbucks fled from the islands. A stranded blackbuck, which was bitten by the stray dogs, died while undergoing medical treatment near Pichuka Lakna on Saturday. 

Also read: Andhra Pradesh: Villagers fear weak bunds, increase in Godavari flood level

Wildlife Ranger S.S.R. Vara Prasad told The Hindu that the blackbucks were fleeing from the river islands while some were being protected by cattle owners along with their animals. “We are preparing to rehabilitate the stranded blackbucks,” he said.

The forest staff have been deployed to keep an eye on the movements and threats to the blackbucks that are staying in the habitations. 

“By Saturday night, at least 20 stranded blackbucks have been identified in various islands that are affected by the flood. Twenty more are believed to be stranded somewhere in the flood affected areas,” Mr. Vara Prasad said. 

Two blackbucks have been shifted to a bio-laboratory in Rajamahendravaram city for medical treatment and care until the flood receded from the islands. 

The forest authorities appealed to the public not to disclose the locations of the blackbucks to protect them from any threat. Hunting of blackbucks attracts punishment under Schedule-1 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.