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Gurez turns poachers’ safe haven as government sits over sanctuary proposal

Srinagar, Jan 3: Not declared a protected area yet, the far-off Gurez and Tulail valley falling in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district have become a safe haven for poaching Musk deer and Ibex.

Despite enormous flora and fauna present in the forests of Gurez and Tulail, the area is not demarked as protected by the government.

Even no monitoring authority is present there.Environmental activist, Dr Ghulam Rasool told The Kashmir Monitor that Musk deer, Monal, and Ibex and other species are found in bulk in Kishan-Ganga forests.“The area shall have been declared protected at an earliest, but the government here is doing nothing to preserve these species,” he said.

He said due to the negligence of the authorities poaching of the wildlife continues there.“Poaching is already banned here under law and the responsibility to save the animals rests with the law-enforcement agencies.”

The forest officer concerned, Shabir Bhat said there were reports of poaching.“It is the job of the Wildlife Department to act on the complaints. At my level, I will inspect the matter and contact the authority concerned,” he said.

Admitting that poaching was going on at a larger scale, Wildlife Warden, Rashid Naqash, said the Wildlife Department didn’t have a base in Gurez and Tulail.“Two years back, we have sent proposal for establishing Kishan Ganga Wildlife Sanctuary in Gurez. If that is approved, we can have regular check there.”

Rashid said whenever they receive any complaint of poaching they have to travel all the way from Srinagar to act.

Principal Chief Conservative Officer, Suresh Chugh, said, “The 2016 proposal for the sanctuary is not yet approved, and is under process. It takes time. When a proposal goes to ministry, it gets examined by different committees and is then finalised.”