Aravallis’ biodiversity under siege

A leopard and her two cubs had come under the wheels of a vehicle and were injured near Manesar last week.

Written by Tanushree Roy Chowdhury | Gurgaon | Published: February 10, 2009 1:17 am

A leopard and her two cubs had come under the wheels of a vehicle and were injured near Manesar last week. The reason for the accident,apart from the immediate cause,is the rapid pace of development around Gurgaon that has deprived several animals and birds of their natural habitat.

Forest officials are still trying to trace and rescue the injured mother and her cubs and feel there is a possibility that the family is related to the three-year-old male leopard which was killed last September by a speeding vehicle.

Explaining the increasing frequency of such accidents,the Conservator of Forests,Gurgaon,R P Balwan said: “The growing number of farmhouses,colonisation and rampant mining in the Aravallis is a cause of major concern. Blasts in the mines and continuous vehicular movement are a threat to wildlife,” he said.

“The gene pool in this region is under the threat of extinction with many species already dwindling. The hilly tracts look barren now,” said Balwan.

“If individual land owners plant fancy trees in the name of afforestation it will not help to save the flora. Only indigenous trees can withstand such extreme and harsh conditions. However,once cut,they are extremely difficult to grow back,” said the conservator.

According to the Supreme Court judgment of March 2004,”Mined pits bring about extensive alteration in the natural land profile of the area. Mining operations have several irreversible consequences.”

“The soil in these ranges takes a very long time to get replenished due to extreme weather variation,” explained Balwan.

Rainwater also erodes top soil. Professor Vikram Soni,research scientist at the National Physical Laboratory said: “The region is a high water recharge area. According to a recent report,around 85 per cent of rain water percolates into the water table. One can find sweet water even at the depth of 600 feet under the surface. However,with encroachments growing each day,the scope of recharging groundwater decreases. Encroachments cover the natural cracks and depressions,which are the channels for recharging groundwater.”

He added that allowing extraction of the ground water in this region from the notified area has only adversely affected the table due to overdrawing.

Assessing the damage
* Rapid pace of development around Gurgaon that has deprived several animals and birds of their natural habitat
* The gene pool in the region is under the threat of extinction with many species already dwindling
* Planting decorative trees in the name of afforestation will not help save the flora
* The soil in the ranges takes a very long time to get replenished due to extreme weather variation

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