Berhampur (Odisha), Apr 9 (PTI) Blackbucks in Odisha have found a sympathetic lot in Ganjam district, who actively protect the endangered animals from poaching activities.

Residents of Bhetanai-Balipadara area in the district have come to the rescue of the blackbucks by forming a protective brigade around their only habitat in the state near Aska area, forest officials said.

Community-led conservation measures, which raised awareness among the villagers, have resulted in their numbers steadily rising since 1998, when the total number of blackbucks in the region stood at 551, they said.

In 2004, the number of blackbucks rose to 786, in 2006 to 1,101 and in 2008 to 1,672, the officials said.

A total of 58 blackbucks have died in the last three years in the region, mostly due to road accidents, stray dog attacks and old age.

“Only one died due to poaching in Aska. The credit goes to the villagers who actively protect the animals,” said B K Acharya, divisional forest officer (DFO) of Ghumusar South Forest Division.

From 2,181 in 2010-11, the blackbuck population has increased to 3,809 in 2014-15, another forest department official said.

Of them, 2,089 are female, 1,166 male and 554 young blackbucks.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.