In a first, 14 majestic Hanguls caught on camera in South Kashmir’s Shikargah
Camera trap image of a group of Hangul from upper areas of Shikargah Conservation Reserve (Now Tral Wildlife Sancturary), in Kashmir. Courtesy: Department of Wildlife Protection, J&K/SKUAST
Srinagar: Wildlife conservationists have a reason to rejoice as 14 majestic Hanguls have been sighted in the Shikargah area of Tral in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
Wildlife Warden Shopian Intesar Suhail said the sightings on the camera have been obtained for the first time.
“Some locals had been earlier complaining that Hanguls barged into the orchards and ate apple blooms. Also, the deer species had caused damage to their crops. Further, the census carried in previous years also showed that there might be Hanguls in the area. But there was no photographic proof,” he said.
Hangul, cervus elaphus hanglu, is a critically endangered species found mainly in the Dachigam National Park and its adjoining areas in Kashmir. The male Hangul is characterized by the antlers and brownish red coat. The female Hangul does not have horns. It is the only survivor of the Red Deer group in the Indian sub-continent and its population has been on a decline over the years.
Of the 14 Hanguls sighted, nine are females, one male, and four antlers. In March, the Department of Wildlife had set up camera traps in Shikargah to sight Hangul.
“After regularly monitoring, we checked the camera traps. To our surprise, it had recorded nine female Hanguls in a single frame, and one male Hangul in a separate frame, which is very rare. There is a possibility of more Hanguls. We are very elated with these sightings”, he said.
Besides, the department has retrieved four antlers this year. “The number of local complaints pertaining to Hangul has also increased,” an official of the Wildlife Department said.
The wildlife department has decided not to release the pictures given the possible threat of poaching. “There have been reports of local poachers’ movements in the area so we refrained from sharing the pictures else it will give an exact location of Hangul sightings,” he said.
The department has also been proactive in offering management practices to conserve Hangul for posterity. “This includes supplements of food and green vegetables so that they get food even in lean periods. This winter we have been doing it all along and it has shown some encouraging results.