Hangul Population Upticks In Kashmir’s Dachigam Park

File photo of Kashmir Hangul at Dachigam Wildlife Reseve

Srinagar- In a positive sign, the population of endangered Kashmiri Royal Stag, vernacularly known as the Hangul has shown a marginal increase in the Valley, officials said Thursday.

The good news came on the day when the department was celebrating World Wildlife Day on Thursday.

Altaf Hussain Dentoo, Wildlife Warden Central division told Kashmir Observer that the population of Hangul has marginally increased to 261, as per latest census by the department as compared to 237 recorded in 2019.

The data from the department suggests that the small upward trend began in 2015, when the Hangul population was 186 and then rose to 197 in 2017.

Regional Wildlife Warden Rashid Naqash, in his book titled Management Plan, Dachigam National Park, writes that the Hangul population decreased from 3,000 in the 1940s to a little over 200 by 1969. However, due to hunting and encroachment of their natural habitat, the number fell to just around 150 in 1970.

The Hangul was widely found in the hilly and mountainous regions of the Valley in the early 20th century.

Dentoo told Kashmir Observer that the census of the Hangul population is conducted after every two years to check their growth or drop.

On Wednesday, a video surfaced on social media showing a large herd of Hangul in Dachigam, much to the delight of officials and the locals.

The video was posted by Naqash on Twitter which showed a 53-strong Hangul herd on the snow-covered slopes of Dachigam park in the Zabarwan mountain range.

“This was the biggest herd I have seen ever in my life,” Dentoo said, adding “It’s a healthy sign for all of us, since the Hangul figures in Red List of threatened species,”

He said the department has taken many initiatives to preserve Hangul and the latest census is the testimony to that.
Dantoo further said that the group spotted Wednesday has given hope that the conservation efforts of the department have started yielding positive results.

He said apart from patrolling to stop poaching, the department is regularly maintaining the habitat for the Hangul which include plantation of fruit bearing trees so that there is no scarcity of food for the Hangul and creation of water holes for them.

“From last 2-3 years, we have planted almost one lakh fruit bearing trees for the Hangul in Dachigam,” Dentoo said.

He said that the department in February made arrangements for food for Hangul following a snowfall.

He further added that they have fenced those areas where there are chances of man-animal conflict and have also taken people on-board for the conservation of Hangul.

Meanwhile, the department on Thursday celebrated World Wildlife Day by organising a series of programs in Kashmir.

At Srinagar, a programme was held at Dachigam Park—home of the Hangul, in which local youth and representatives were sensitized about role, responsibilities and potential for eco-guides in Wildlife Protected Areas, Dentoo said.

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Auqib Javeed

Auqib Javeed is special correspondent with Kashmir Observer and tweets @AuqibJaveed

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