Livestock density is directly proportionate (positive correlation) to rainfall. Livestock consists of sheep, goat, camel, cow and donkey. Buffalo is found along with Indira Gandhi Nahar (canal) Project (IGNP). Agriculture and animal husbandry are important occupations of people of Thar Desert.
Pearl Millet or Bajra, Pcmisetum typhoides is the main monsoonal crop. Other common crops are Mong, Phaseolus radiatus, Moth, Vigna aconitifolia, Guar, Cyamopsis tetragonolo and Til, Seamum indicum.
In the IGNP common areas, these traditional crops are being replaced by cash crops such as Groundnut, Arachis hypogea, cotton, Gossypium spp., Rice, Oryza sativa, sugarcane, Saccharum officunarum, wheat, Triticum sativum and Barley, Hordeum vulgare (Chatterjee & Saxena, 1988), During good rainfall years, vast areas in Jodhpur, Bikaner. Nagpur, Pali, Churu, Sriganganagar are brought under cultivation.
However, irrigated area in Thar is rather limited to 14% of total cropped area. Nearly 54% of total irrigated area is fed by canals, 45% by wells and tube wells, and only 0.87% by tanks (Chouh 1988).
Water is conserved in village tanks, cisterns, reservoirs or though canto bounding around a crop field in valley bottom (called Khadins). In khadi water is left standing for few weeks/months which recharge ground water as well as moistens soil.
In such fields, winter crop is grown without forth irrigation. Such contour bonding is quite old in origin. Large number of natty trees is found in such Khadims which attract many passerines. Unfortunately traditional water harvesting and conservation system is collapsing under pressure of human population, market forces and socio-economic changes.
Apart from land that was cultivated with development of IGNP, human populations in whole of Thar brought 44.6% of marginal land under cultivation in 1951-61 and an additional 9.47% during 1961-71 (Mann, 1988).
Protected Areas in the Thar:
Among all ecological zones of India, desert biomes have probably the lowest number of protected areas. In the 2, 08,751 km2, Thar Desert of Rajasthan there are only three protected areas.
Desert National Part (DNP):
Desert national park in Jaisalmer and Bann district is an important protected area for Houbara and Great Indian Bustai Forest Department has developed several large core area (enclosures), consisted of 400 to 700 ha, where grazing or any type of human disturbance is in allowed.
Some well known enclosures are (size in hectare given in brick Sam (1100, in two parts), Sudasari (1750, in four parts), Miyajlar (500), Sural (700), Phulia (400), Barsiala (400). The degree of protection varies from enclose to enclosure, all depending upon the staff posted there and the interest taken) higher authorities.
The best protected enclosure is about 7837 ha. Besides the core area, large area of DNP is still under excellent to moderate grass Although illegal grazing is seen in most of enclosures (except Sudasari), poach common in Thar Desert is not know, inside and around these enclosures mi because of effective surveillances by the forest department.
Besides enclose present inside the boundary of DNP, there are six enclosures which are our DNP boundary, which are called as satellite conservation areas. They Ramdevera (875 ha in three parts), Ujlan (250 ha) and Rasla (600 in two parts).
Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary:
Gajner wildlife sanctuary is one of the protected areas in Thar Desert. This sanctuary was the former hunting gives for Maharajas of Bikaner but after India’s independence and abolition of purses and privileges, this sanctuary is under litigation. Forest Department is in charge of wild life but the land belongs to the Maharajah’s family.
This charge has resulted in a peculiar situation. As a result, sanctuary is the neglected by Forest Department. As the sanctuary is covered with trees (Prosopis juliflora), habitat is not very suitable for Houbara Bustard but sometimes seen just outside the sanctuary.
A large wetland is present in the sanctuary, which was at one time for imperial sand grouse shoots (Rahmani 1997). Owing to developed IGNP and resultant seepage, importance of Gajner tank as a drinking play imperial sand grouse has diminished but is still attracts 6-10 thousands big winter. It is also important wetlands for waterfowl.
Tal Chhapper Sanctuary:
Tal chhapper sanctuary in Churu distrii small sanctuary of about 7 km2. It was notified in 1962 for protects Blackbuck and Demoiselle Cranes. It is a tree less depression which you get inundated during good rainfall years. However, as the district falls arid zones, rainfall is generally insufficient to inundate the sanctuary.
There for most of the year the depression or Taal remains dry. Houbara recorded from this sanctuary. Surrounding areas are under human occurring but cultivation is marginal and wholly dependent on monsoon rains.
Besides these three protected areas in Thar Desert, are many closed areas for shooting. The degree of protection by Forest department in these closed areas is negligible. Wildlife guard had never visited his area and does not know what type of wildlife is found there.
As many of these closed areas are dominated by vishnoi community there is some protection by the local people. India is having 74,809 km2 of cold desert area in states of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. The region is characterized by high altitude sandy mountains, extremely low temperatures and short cropping season (Singh, 2007).