From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Kashmir Stag (Hangul)
Mains level : Not Much
- A massive decline in the population of Kashmir’s iconic wildlife species, the Hangul (Cervus hanglu hanglu), also known as the Kashmir stag, continues to be a big concern.
Kashmir Stag (Hangul)
- Hangul, the state animal of Jammu & Kashmir, is restricted to the Dachigam National Park some 15 km north-west of Jammu & Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar.
- The Hangul is placed under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and the J&K Wildlife Protection Act, 1978.
- The Hangul was once widely distributed in the mountains of Kashmir and parts of Chamba district in neighbouring Himachal Pradesh.
- The IUCN’s Red List has classified it as Critically Endangered and is similarly listed under the Species Recovery Programme of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and the Environmental Information System (ENVIS) of the MoEFCC.
Why is Hangul crucial?
- From a population of 5,000 in the early 1900s, the Hangul’s numbers have constantly declined over the decades.
- The Hangul is considered equally significant to the state of Jammu & Kashmir as the tiger is to the whole of India.
- It is the only Asiatic survivor or sub-species of the European red deer. But the state animal’s decreasing population remains a big concern.
- According to the latest survey in 2017, the population of Hangul is 182 in Dachigam and adjoining areas. Earlier population estimates suggest that there were 197 deer in 2004 and 186 in 2015.
- The IUCN Red Data Book — which contains lists of species at risk of extinction — has declared the Hangul as one of three species that were critically endangered in J&K.
- The other two are the Markhor — the world’s largest species of wild goat found in Kashmir and several regions of central Asia — and the Tibetan antelope or ‘Chiru’.
- The biggest challenges which have been identified by experts in the way of conservation and population growth of Hangul are habitat fragmentation, predation and very low fawn-female ratio.
- Lack of desirable breeding and fawn survival is a grave concern for the population growth.
- Another challenge is the male-female and fawn-adult disparity in the Hangul population.
- Influx of livestock herds of nomadic communities in the Dachigam National Park has been a challenge for years.
- After the closing down of their traditional routes leading to over a dozen alpine pastures (in Gurez) by the army after the inception of armed conflict in Kashmir, nomads have not been able to graze their herds in those pastures.
- So, they are taking their large herds of livestock to the upper reaches of Dachigam during summers.
- Other dangers for the Hangul population include excessive predation of fawns by the Common Leopard, the Himalayan Black Bear and nomads’ dogs.