Srinagar, Dec 10: Critically endangered Hangul is set to get a new lease of life as Jammu and Kashmir government has decided to collaborate with Hyderabad based research organization for creating a genetic profile of Himalayan stag in a bid to conserve the animal for posterity.
Hangul is the only survivor of the red deer group in the Indian sub-continent. Its population has been on a decline over the years.
Waking up to fast declining numbers, the government had come up with several initiatives in the past to revive the endangered species of Himalayan deer. This included setting up Hangul breeding centers in central and south Kashmir. However, it failed to yield any concrete results.
To strengthen the functioning of established breeding centers, the administration has now decided to collaborate with Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES), a Hyderabad based organization, for the conservation of endangered species by creating genetic profile of Hangul to identify the superior members.
An official of the wildlife department said the breeding of superior deer species will help in enhancing the immunity of the off-spring. “Consequently, they will have an improved survival rate even in the harsh conditions. “The Hyderabad based organization is most effective as they have superior man power and are well-funded. This will ensure that the work is not halted for the lack of funds or expertise,” he said.
LaCONES, the official said, will also be studying issues that led to the decline of Kashmir stag and suggest ways for habitat improvement.
“We need six females and two males to begin with. Second, it should be done either in spring or autumn. Also, the age of the breeding stock is very important. The wrong age will turn counterproductive for the entire process,” the official said.
A recent survey has revealed alarming decrease in the animal’s population structure, with lowest ever male-female and fawn-female ratios. “There were 15.5 males per 100 females and 7.5 fawns per 100 females,” the census reveals.
Wildlife Warden Central Kashmir, Altaf Hussain said talks with the research organization are in formative stage.
“Plans are afoot to collaborate with the organization. The organization has got good infrastructure and quality human research is ensured. This aims to serve as a greater cause. The conservation efforts are in full swing. Recently officials of Wildlife Department attended a three-day conference held at IMPA, Srinagar organized by a Hyderabad based firm. It focused how the breeding process of Hangul can be done on scientific lines,” he said.
Wildlife Warden, Shopian, Intisar Suhail said they are presently running progammes with SKUAST and Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, to ensure their capturing as well as breeding. “Hopefully, we will get the stock by next year,” he said.