No significant increase in Hangul population: Survey

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By: Muddasir Ali
Srinagar: A latest study on critically endangered species Hangul or Kashmir Stag, found only in Kashmir, has revealed that there was no significant increase in the animal population.
The survey which was undertaken by Department of Wildlife Protection in collaboration with the Wildlife Institute of India follows various measures announced by the state government and government of India to save the only surviving species of the Red Deer group in the sub-continent.
“The average raw count of the Hangul was estimated to be 218±13.96. The numbers although showing an increasing trend from 2009, however, is not to be considered a significant increase in the population of Hangul,” the study highlights.
Last time the survey was undertaken in 2009 which had shown Hangul population (raw count) at 175. The latest survey has shown an increase of 43.
The survey was undertaken in March this year in an area of 1,107 kilometers in 87 transects including Dachigam National Park and adjoining areas including Dara, Nishat, Braine, Cheshmashahi, Khonmoh, Khrew, Wangath, Shikargah, Khiram, Khangund Conservation Reserves and the adjoining forest areas of Sindh Forest.
Conservation of Hangul assumes great significance as the species is placed under Schedule-I in the Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1978 (amended up to 2002) and the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. It is also listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna.
However in an encouraging sign the study reveals that the male : female ratio and female : fawn ratio has also exhibited a “better trend” in the current census.
The survey indicated a positive trend in Hangul population, age group and sex ratio, which is encouraging for sustenance of this critically endangered species. It appears to be due to the effective protection, control of poaching and various conservation measures taken by the Department, apart from lending more credibility to the census operations through the involvement of independent volunteers, researchers, students and the NGOs.
Ministry of Environments and Forestry has already approved Rs 22 crores Species Recovery Plan for Hangul for a period of five years under the Species Recovery Programme of the “Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats”.
The Department has started construction of Conservation Breeding Centres for Hangul at Shikargarh, Tral with the financial assistance from the Central Zoo Authority of Ministry of Environment and Forests.

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