Thursday, 2 June 2011

Velavadar Blackbuck National Park

Velavadar National Park is located in the Bhal region of Saurashtra and is set between two rivers, 50 km west of the Gulf of Cambay (also known as Khambhat). Velavadar is one of Gujarat’s best-kept secrets and that is the reason it is brimming with animal and bird life.

Before Independence, Velavadar was a part of the princely state of Bhavnagar with the grasslands acting as private grazing lands for the maharaja’s cattle. It is currently a 34 sq km protected area. Hunting of blackbucks is strictly prohibited here. If one remembers, the Bollywood actor, Salman Khan was arrested for shooting a blackbuck. Velavadar is the only tropical grassland to be given the status of a National Park. Its ecosystem houses four distinct habitats – grassland, shrub land, saline land and high tidal lands. 

In Hindu mythology, the blackbuck is considered sacred. Even a glimpse of the animal is considered auspicious in many communities.

With its maximum recorded speed standing at 80 km an hour, the blackbuck is the fastest Indian antelope. I was extremely thrilled to have spotted a couple of male blackbucks in full steam. Their leaps and jumps are just a sight to behold. The male blackbuck is highly territorial and tends to lead a lifestyle that is now against the law in most human societies – the dominant male lives in harems and quasi-harems.

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