Many of you might have seen salt licks along the mountains and rivers just like me. I am very sure some might have even tasted the salts along the rivers due to curiosity. But, I am also pretty sure you might not have thought its significance except to those conservationists who lives with wildlife. In my childhood days, I use to travel with my parents exploring nature collecting woods, sand and stones. I often observe the frost like characteristics on river side which perfect taste of salt. I now realize it is not other than the NATURAL SALT LICK. No, I didn’t think of its significance and yes nobody told me its best place for wildlife visitors. For those keen people like me, I am sharing the three importance of salt-lick in my narrow view.
1. Species Diversity and Abundance:
Salt-licks are the best place to observe varieties of wildlife. Starting from little mouse to gigantic elephant, salt is the important need for their survival. Animals can’t speak nor their need be heard by human but nature however plays vital role in meeting their needs. It is the natural salt licks that meet the demands of wildlife in getting salts. Winter is the best season to notice salts in the salt-lick just like the frost that we observe in winter morning. Summer hardly observes salt in solid form rather in a liquid state due to high monsoon and moisture. This has been a positive point for animals to unearth the soil and dig for some in getting the inner depth of salts. Winter is just the opposite, the animals except tuskers could get the inner salts which make them challenge over the little salts on the salt lick.
If you happen to visit the salt-licks, you will frequently observe the abundance of different species. The indirect sign like tracts and dung are observed in abundance. For biodiversity lover, I encourage salt lick is the best place to observe animals and birds. In the natural salt lick of Nichula, the salt lick named as Chamarey Khar has wide range of species diversity. Elephants, Guar, Samber and Barking deer, Common leopard and birds are the frequent visitor of the site. It is by the reason; the enrichment of salt lick is epitome in strengthening biodiversity and wildlife specifically.
2. Natural Salt-lick as source of Nutrients and Minerals:
Natural salt-licks are the only places where wildlife gets minerals and nutrition in easy and abundance. However, with constant pressure by the wildlife on salt-lick deter the mineral content making it insufficient with increasing population. Enrichment of natural salt-lick could be best measure to ease the competition among wildlife and to reach mineral and nutrients. Winter being the most challenging season for wildlife to get salts due to compact soil and dry weather, the staffs of Nichula Range has enriched the salt-lick.
3. Enrichment of Natural Salt-lick as measure for mitigating Human Wildlife Conflict:
Salt-lick enrichment is one of the activities that foresters in Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary has been carrying out to ease the competition among wildlife. This has made wildlife easy access to salt and reduce the competition among them. There are incidences and stories in past about the challenges faced by cow herders with the wildlife. The animals like elephants destroying cowsheds and licking the salts in their herds. Insufficient and unavailable salt could be addressed for the cause of human wildlife conflict though could be very minimal.
Nichula is the geog highly challenged by human wildlife conflict. The reason varies starting from increasing population and destruction of habitat along the borders. The ineffectiveness of current measures wins the wildlife in crop depredation and impairing domestic animals. Salt-lick enrichment was never in the interest of people except to few who love to try and see the changes. People perceive it would rather invite wildlife like elephant and leopards to destroy their crops and animals. Summer has gone with much challenge for foresters though the access to salt by wildlife is also easy due to monsoon and high moisture content. Winter is just the opposite, the dry weather has further challenged in making the soil compact and increasing difficulty for wild animals. This has made foresters to enrich natural salt-lick and create artificial salt-lick in some areas.