The Jodhpur court has found Salman Khan guilty and sentenced him 5 years of imprisonment and Rs. 10,000 fine in a 20 years old case related to blackbuck poaching. His conviction came under the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
Blackbucks are one of the rare wild animals that learnt to live alongside humans for survival with the expansion of the villages and cities, encroaching lands that served as homes for antelopes. The population of blackbucks is on the decline with rampant poaching and habitat destruction.
Here are facts at a glance
- The blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) also known as the Indian antelope. The blackbuck is the sole extant member of the genus Antilope. It stands up to 74 to 84 cm in height. Males weigh 20-57 kilograms while females are lighter, weighing 20-33 kilograms on an average. It can run at the speed of 50 kms/hr. Its lifespan is 10 to 15 years.
- According to mythological texts, blackbucks were the employed in the chariots of Lord Krishna. In Sanskrit texts, blackbucks are called "Krushna Mrug" (black deer). They are also considered the vehicles of Vayu (the wind god) and Chandra (the moon god).
- Mythological connection with Lord Krishna and Karni Mata accords blackbucks religious protection in Rajasthan, where Salman Khan was found to be hunting the animal.
- Blackbucks are known to change colour according to changing seasons.
- A herbivore species, blackbucks inhabit in open grassland, dry thorn scrub, scrubland and the lightly-wooded country as well as agricultural margins, where it is often seen feeding in fields.
- They are mainly sedentary, but in summer may move long distances in search of water and forage.
- Their hunting was portrayed in the miniature paintings of the Mughal era and they were the targets of royal families for centuries for sport, but today the now-endangered blackbuck felled a superstar.
- Blackbucks, known for their soft coat and characteristic twisted horns, are very "nervous by nature and sometimes just die of cardiac arrest only in the face of a perceived danger.
- The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 turned out to be a blessing for blackbucks, chinkaras, tigers and elephants and so many other animal species, a large number of whom were killed by the colonial rulers and various maharajas as they went on their 'shikars' (hunting sport).
- In 2008, they were declared 'Near Threatened' by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), but in 2017, moved to the category of 'Least Concern'.
- According to the IUCNredlist.org, their range declined sharply in the 20th century because of "unsustainable hunting".
- Blackbucks are an "extremely vulnerable species" and on the "endangered list in India, afforded the highest protection under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972".
- Threats to them include hunting, destruction of their forest homes, climate change and conflict with villagers.
- Bishnois revere blackbucks as they revere all animals and plant life. And, it has been felt that though blackbucks stay in the wild, they tend to feel secure in the vicinity of the Bishnoi community.
- In India, they are found in Gujarat, Maharastra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and parts of Andhra Pradesh, the Delhi-based animal activist added.
OneIndia News (with PTI inputs)