SRINAGAR, Sept 16: Conservationists in Kashmir are planning to breed rare red deer, Hangul, to save a species found only in the Himalayas from the verge of extinction.
Environmentalists say there are less than 220 red deer known commonly as the Hangul left in Kashmir’s forests from more than 900 in 1989 because of poaching and neglect by authorities aggravated by a 23-year-old separatist rebellion in the region.
Mohammad Hamid Ansari, Vice President of India, was briefed about the measures being taken by the Government for the conservation of Hangul and other fauna, during his visit to the Dachigam National Park today.
“Under the Species Recovery Programme, a captive breeding centre will be commissioned for the breeding of Hangul at Shikargah, Tral (in south Kashmir) and thereafter the animals will be released in the wild,” said divisional forest officer Rashid Naqash, while briefing the vice president.
The Central Zoo Authority is also supporting the conservation programme of this critically endangered species
The Kashmir state government is setting up a breeding centre near the mountains in southern Kashmir and also plans to set up a deer park by the hill resort of Gulmarg.
“I am sure the breeding program will reverse the animal’s decline,” Naqash added.
Violence, which has killed tens and thousands of people across Kashmir, has also taken a heavy toll on the state’s environment.
The Hangul, a majestic looking deer with a brownish coat and two antlers, is found mostly in the forests of Dachigam, a short drive from Srinagar, Kashmir’s summer capital.
Wildlife authorities also plan to use satellite-tracking technology to save the Hangul, which is poached for its meat and antlers.
A Habitat Research Study has been initiated in collaboration with SKUAST-Kashmir for satellite collaring of Hangul in order to understand the movement patterns and the habitat, both in and outside the Dachigam National Park.
In addition, a massive improvement in conducting census programme of Hangul has been undertaken whereby satellite telemetry and field cameras of high definition are being placed in the Park.
Besides, an important research programme has been launched to study the relic population of Hangul outside Dachigam National Park in collaboration with the Wildlife Trust of India.