DACHIGAM, Sept 17: The honking of wild birds, the cackle of geese and the roar of the leopard have again filled the air at Kashmir’s Dachigam, with over 150 species of wild animals and birds back in the region’s only National park after a fall in years of violence involving security forces and militants.
Spread over 141 square kilometres amid dense conifer forests, the Dachigam National Park, is showing signs of hope, as authorities say it is regaining the past glory and richness of its flora and fauna.
Rashid Naqash, Divisional Forest Officer and Wildlife Warden, on Sunday, gave a detail about improvements in the variety of species and their numbers galoring in the park premises.
“As far as the other fauna is concerned, besides Hangul the dominant species of the Dachigam National Park are Himalayan black bear, common leopard, Himalayan langur, red fox, Himalayan marmot, leopard cat, jungle cat, Himalayan mouse hare and musk deer,” he told Mohammad Hamid Ansari, India’s Vice President, who is in the valley to inaugurate the National Science Congress at the Kashmir University.
“This Park also has over 150 species of birds,” Ansari was told.
In Kashmir, where two decades of strife has left nothing untouched, Dachigam was one of the victims, wildlife experts say. Only a few dozen species of birds, besides some animals, were left in the scenic park.
The population of the Hangul, a beautiful red deer with smooth skin and magnificient antlers found only in Kashmir, kept dwindling and reached a mere 150.
But now, the Hangul numbers have grown to 219, a positive sign that the species could survive, Naqash told the Vice President.
“Both warring sides brought lawlessness, all troubles along with it, even to the dachigam and its (wild)life,” says Imtiyaz Bhat , a wildlife activist.
Now with waning violence, they (authorities) are focussing on improving things which bore the brunt of the turmoil, which is good, he added.