Friday, September 21, 2012

Jammu and Kashmir to Raise Kashmir Stag in Captive Breeding Center

The Kashmir stag or hangul

It has been recently reported that the government of Jammu and Kashmir has made a decision to raise the endangered Kashmir stag, locally known as hangul, in a captive breeding center to reverse its decline in population. The plan came into action after India's vice president Mohammad Hamid Ansari visited Dachigam National Park, the last home of this endangered species of deer. According to divisional forest officer Rashid Naqash, a captive breeding center will be inaugurated for the breeding of the deer at Shikargah, Tral (south of Kashmir) under the Species Recovery Program. He further added that a long-term conservation plan was being enforced with the support of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests. Similarly, a habitat research study has been introduced in partnership with the agricultural university for satellite collaring of the deer in order to understand its movement pattern and habitat, both inside and outside Dachigam National Park. Naqash also stated that an important research program has been implemented to study the population of the Kashmir stag outside the national park in partnership with the Wildlife Trust of India.

I'm very proud to see what the government of Jammu and Kashmir is doing, in order save one of its most magnificent species of wildlife found nowhere else in India but in the state itself. The Kashmir stag, an only subspecies of the magnificent and majestic red deer in the Indian Subcontinent, is a critically endangered species listed in the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). During the 1940s, its population decreased tremendously due to poaching for its meat, skin, and antlers. By 1989, the population fell to 900 animals from 3000. Furthermore, numbers plummeted to below 200 as militants and the army battled each other in the forests. However, officials disclosed that as per the 2011 census, the number of the Kashmir stag recorded was 218. Now, the state of Jammu and Kashmir has taken the initiative of reviving the population of the Kashmir stag with the establishment of a captive breeding center. This way, the deer will be reintroduced in the wild further increasing its population. I also hope that as part of the initiative, the state government will also launch intensive efforts to protect the Kashmir stag from poaching and other threats.

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