Hemsingh Gehlot  

Tal chhaper Sanctuary is a unique grassland ecosystem and a home to the endangered species Blackbuck in Thar Desert of India but it's no longer a heaven for this species. It lies at N 27.81046º E 74.43501º in Sujangargh tehsil of Churu district of Rajasthan, India. These porous area boundaries make it easy for stray dogs to enter it from various neighboring villages.  Once found in open plains throughout the country and the state of Rajasthan.

During the 18th, 19th and the first half of the 20th century, Blackbuck was the most hunted wild animal all over India. Till Independence, many princely states used to hunt this Indian Antelope and gazelle with cheetahs. The sanctuary was "Shikargahs" (Game reserve) for the erstwhile rulers of Bikaner State before independence. Due to indiscriminate hunting, poaching and habitat loss, blackbuck population has been reduced drastically. Now they can be seen in sanctuary, closed area or around Bishnoi village. Blackbuck is included in the schedule I of wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and is designated as vulnerable as per Red Data Book (1994). Now its largest population at present occurs in Tal chhaper sanctuary in Rajasthan and Velavadar national park in Gujarat state of India. Tal chhaper wildlife sanctuary is a unique sanctuary having a good population of Blackbuck in a small area of 719 hector. It has more than 1700-1800 Blackbucks are found within the Sanctuary. The major predator, the Indian cheetah has totally disappeared whereas population of wolf declined sharply or disappeared. The predators like fox and jackal were observed from these habitats however their numbers were very less. The stray dogs are the main predators in sanctuary. They live in groups, in circle the blackbuck strategically to prey upon it.  The killings by feral dogs are very high especially of fawns during breeding season (November -December). Yearly 20 -25 blackbucks are killed by them. Another hazard is the over speeding vehicles. Every year 10-12 Blackbucks are dying due to road accident on Nokha-Sujangargh state highway. In fact this road has physically divided the sanctuary in two parts.  A word of praise would not be out of place for the Bishnoi community, who like the Kathi community of Gujarat has protected the blackbuck with vigor and zeal, as it is associated practices.  Such communities are the real strength of wildlife protection in Rajasthan. It is not too late to save the Blackbuck in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan if such a conservation strategy is implemented immediately.