Wildlife census shows increase in Kashmir Hangul population
There has been an increase in the population of Hangul deer, according to a latest census conducted by the Wildlife Department. The census has been conducted in collaboration with the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun and Wildlife Trust of India, New Delhi.
The Census was initiated on the Hangul to identify threats to the species and formulate a strategy to save them. The Hangul is characterized by impressive spreading antlers of the adult male and its rich brownish red coat. Female Hangul does not have horns.
The estimated population is now between 201 and 234, compared to 117-199 in March 2008. The male-female ratio and female-fawn ratio have also shown an upward swing in the current census.
The increase in population is being attributed to the effective measures which include protection and control on poaching taken by the Department, besides involvement of independent volunteers, researchers, students and the NGOs.
Hangul or Kashmir stag is a critically-endangered species found in J&K mainly in the Dachigam National Park and its adjoining areas. Conservation of this species assumes great significance as this is the only survivor of the Red Deer group in the Indian Subcontinent. The species is placed under Schedule I in the J&K Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1978 and the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. It is also listed in on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).
The Department of Wildlife Protection, in collaboration with the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), has been regularly monitoring Hangul population in Dachigam National Park and its adjoining areas since 2004 through involvement of researchers, university students and the NGOs.
In order to conserve Hangul, a Species Recovery Plan has also been prepared by the Wildlife Department through the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun for a period of five years and submitted to the Union Ministry of Environment & Forests for approval.
Launching of the Species Recovery Plan for Hangul will help not only in conservation of this critically endangered species but also enrich the biodiversity of the habitat where Hangul is found. The project will be implemented with the active involvement of the local communities. The current census data will form a valuable input for the planning and implementation of the Species Recovery Programme.
The recent Hangul population estimation was conducted in March 2009 in Dachigam National Park and its adjoining areas like Dara, Nishat, Braine, Cheshma Shahi, Khonmoh, Khrew, Wangath Conservation Reserves and the adjoining forest areas of Akhal, Najwan, Surfrao, Kulan, Mammar, Ganiwan.
The Department has also started construction of a Conservation Breeding Centre for Hangul at Shikargarh, Tral with financial assistance provided by Central Zoo Authority, Ministry of Environment and Forests.
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