PULWAMA: The jackal population of Kashmir valley has registered a “manifold” increase as a two-decade-old militancy has scared away
poachers and hunters from the region.
After the sunset jackals prowl in the countryside of the Valley striking fear among villagers.
“We tell our children not to roam outside after dark nowadays,” says Manzoor Ahmed Baba of Koyl area in Pulwama district.
Experts attribute the sudden rise in the jackal population to the fact that hunting of the animals stopped with the outbreak of a violent separatist campaign in the Kashmir Valley in 1989.
“For fear of being caught in exchanges of fire between militants and the security forces, no one dared to venture deep into the forests in the past 20 years,” a wildlife official says.
“Also, local hunters were ordered to hand in their guns. The impact is visible, there has been a manifold increase in jackal population.”
In 1990, authorities asked residents to deposit their hunting rifles with police as part of efforts to quell the revolt.
“Locals used to hunt jackals for two reasons – one, they are a real menace in the countryside where they attack sheep and poultry and, two, their furs would fetch some money,” says Zubiar Ahmed, a keen wildlife watcher.
The violence that killed tens of thousands of people has also helped population growth of other wildlife species in Kashmir.
Rare birds like the black partridge and pheasant have increased in thousands while more Asiatic black bear, leopards, musk deer and hangul, a rare red deer, now roam the disputed Himalayan region’s pine forests.
Authorities estimate the number of threatened black bear, which also inhabit hilly and mountainous forests across Asia from Afghanistan to Taiwan, to be 2,500-3,000 from 700-800 since 1990 in the region.
Officials say the increase in wildlife population is also a good news for Kashmir’s sanctuaries and wildlife parks which are among the various places frequented by tourist in the state.