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Hangul Deer Conservation: Kashmir Efforts



  Mar 23, 2024

Hangul Deer Conservation in Kashmir



What is the unique significance of the hangul deer in Kashmir?

The hangul deer (Cervus hanglu hangul), also known as the Kashmir stag, is unique to the Indian subcontinent and is found exclusively in Kashmir. It represents the only species of red deer in this region. Its significance goes beyond its rarity, as it is an integral part of the local ecosystem and cultural heritage.

Why is the hangul deer on the brink of extinction?

The hangul deer’s path towards endangerment has been paved by several factors, including significant habitat loss due to human encroachment, increased predation by domestic and feral dogs, poaching, and competition for resources with domestic livestock. Additionally, a skewed sex ratio and high fawn mortality, possibly linked to stress and reduced genetic variability, exacerbate its decline.

What are the current population estimates for the hangul deer, and how reliable are they?

Recent estimates of the hangul deer population suggest numbers ranging from approximately 289 to 394 individuals. These figures come from different methodologies, including direct sightings and genetic sampling. The genetic sampling method, considered more accurate by some researchers, suggests a higher population and a better male-to-female ratio than previously believed.

Describe the conservation efforts undertaken for the hangul deer.

Conservation efforts for the hangul deer encompass a range of strategies aimed at reversing its population decline. These include strict anti-poaching measures, habitat restoration projects, and efforts to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts. A significant development is the establishment of a breeding program aimed at improving the hangul’s skewed sex ratio. Additionally, initiatives to remove domestic livestock from key hangul habitats and regulate tourist access in sensitive areas have been implemented.

What challenges do conservation projects for the hangul deer face?

Conservation projects for the hangul deer face several challenges, including inconsistent and insufficient funding, which hampers the execution of long-term conservation plans. Furthermore, the fragmentation of hangul habitats and the complex socio-political landscape of Kashmir add layers of difficulty to conservation efforts. The skewed sex ratio and genetic concerns also pose significant hurdles for the recovery of the population.

Is there hope for the recovery of the hangul deer population?

Despite the challenges, there is cautious optimism for the recovery of the hangul deer population. Recent genetic studies indicate that the hangul deer maintains a level of genetic diversity comparable to healthier red deer populations elsewhere, suggesting potential resilience. Successes in other wildlife conservation efforts in India provide a blueprint for effective strategies that could be adapted for the hangul. Continuous research, along with sustained and focused conservation actions, is essential for the hangul deer’s survival and recovery.
 


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