Overgrazing Impacting the Ecosystem of Sariska Tiger Reserve

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Overgrazing Impacting the Ecosystem of Sariska Tiger Reserve

There is large fragmentation and degradation of wildlife habitat caused by people and their cattle and the gradual increase in their numbers are causing major problems for the survival of wildlife in such areas.
Overgrazing is becoming a serious threat to the survival of many endangered species in the world. This abstract presents the findings from an analysis of the effect of overgrazing on the wildlife in the Sariska Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan, India. Human animal conflicts become more intense where livestock holdings and agriculture are an important part of rural livelihood. Competition between rural communities and wild animals over natural resources is more intense in developing countries. The comparative analysis that can be sought from the data that has been collected from the past vegetation when it saw only grazing and the present vegetation when grazing has turned into overgrazing has led us to interpret that overgrazing is being practiced in the core areas of Sariska.

It has been observed that sambhar (Rusa unicolor) and cheetal (Axis axis) numbers have declined in the habitat area where livestock grazing is intense. Sambhar competes with goats for browsing material and with other cattle for water, which is needed for wallowing and drinking.
Cheetal (Axis axis) is a grazer and also competes with cattle for feed and water. Blue bull (Boselaphus tragocamelus) is the least disturbed by cattle since browsing material comprises of 70 percent of its diet and the animal needs water less frequently.
Not only are the Ungulates involved in this problem, but the present study has found that even the langur (Semnopithecus entellus) population is higher in the undisturbed areas. This stands to the reason that there is not enough food to support the langur (Semnopithecus entellus) population in the disturbed area with low tree density. Tree density, tree cover and the number of tree species are lower in the disturbed areas, suggesting less quantity and variety of food in these areas at Sariska. Nearly 5% of the langur (Semnopithecus entellus) population at Sariska is preyed on by tigers (Panthera tigris) annually. Therefore, greater disturbance to the langurs (Semnopithecus entellus) also directly lowers the tiger’s prey base. Such observations indicate that the concerned authorities should rethink their vision of conservation by adopting new approaches which are sustainable in nature.

Keywords: Overgrazing, Deforestation, Sariska Tiger Reserve, Conservation, Sustainable conservation techniques

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