Black Buck Reserve
Near the Indian border there is a reserve for the rare Black Buck. We can either go on motorbike from our camp if there is only one person, or use public transport or even rent a vehicle if there is a large enough group.
Simon Mustoe, an ecologist from Australia drew these sketches and made the following notes while visiting the Reserve:
Khairi Panditpur, c. 30km SE of the Bardia Park head quarters.
Dark colour fades after rutting period (Feb-Mar), although males retain distinctive horns and white eye-patch
The Blackbuck, all 43 of them, persist in an area of "phanta" (grassland) only about 15 ha in size, that is bordered by forest on one side and completely deforested on the river.
The animals are under enormous pressure from settlements, some of them of Indian origin, others recently freed bonded labour, comprising camps of people with no welfare support. Some of the huts between the grassland and the remaining swamp forest where the Black Buckseek refuge from the hot midday sun, are only 200m from the herds≥ During our brief visit, cattle grazers and bicycles loaded with produce crossed the centre of the grassland continuously.
The grassland and forest exists on on damp ground and the Blackbuck seem to be mainly associated with the lighter grasses growing in lower-lying and damper areas. These patches which are green still, in the hot season's sun, are where all the animals rested during our visit.
Disturbance to the grassland has seemingly begun to change the character of the grassland and more 'coarse' grass types prevail where over-grazing has not reduced the sward completely.
Although hunting pressure is now quite low, Blackbuck are increasingly coming into contact with people and they are occasionally trapped, for feeding on adjacent crops - planted on areas of fairly recent clear fell and presumably supplementary nourishment in the absence of suitable natural grassland.
The population over the last few years has declined considerably. Blackbuck appears on the Nepalese Rs10 bank note.
We can arrange entry to the park, transport, food and a guide. We can also combine this trip with watching the crocodiles on the Babai river.