The forests of Kashmir without the Hangul are unthinkable. This species of Red Deer group is found exclusively in the Valley but a recent survey conducted by the J-K Department of Wildlife Protection says that the Kashmir forests have been witnessing a continuous decline in their population over the years. Keeping the dwindling numbers of Hangul in Kashmir in view,a Species Recovery Plan has been initiated by the J-K State Wild Life Department to conserve the critically endangered species.
As per the census conducted in March 2008 by the Wildlife Department in collaboration with the Wildlife Institute of India in Dehradun,the population of Hangul has been estimated to be around 117-199. The average population is 160 only.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests has released an amount of rupees 99 lakh for the plan, said J-K chief wildlife warden A K Srivastava. The plan comes under Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats scheme.
Hangul (Cervus elaphus hanglu),popularly known as the Kashmir stag is exclusive to the valley found in the Dachigam National Park and its adjoining areas.
The Species Recovery Plan will cover areas where Hangul is found apart from the Dachigam National Park,said Srivastava. The plan will include other forest areas,sanctuaries and conservation reserves of Kashmir valley which are the relic habitats of Hangul where this species has been noticed through direct or indirect evidences.
The J-K Wildlife Department plans to implement the species recovery plan for Hangul by employing a number of steps. The plan includes survey and census of Hangul,Leopard and Black bear in the Hangul habitat,purchase of field equipments including still cameras and camera traps,purchase of satellite imageries and GIS hardware and software,habitat improvement works through afforestration,soil and water conservation,infrastructure development including others, said Srivastava.
Meanwhile,the J-K Wildlife Department has started census and survey of Hangul all over Kashmir Valley in collaboration with the Wildlife Institute of India,Dehradun and Wildlife Trust of India,New Delhi.
Launching of the Species Recovery Plan for Hangul will help not only in conservation of this critically endangered species but also the rich biodiversity of the habitats where Hangul are found, said Srivastava.