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World wildlife day: Hangul numbers stable, fresh census to kick off from March 10 in Kashmir

Srinagar:  Wildlife department is conducted fresh Hangul census from March 10 to know the exact number of the critically endangered animal in the valley.

Hangul, cervus elaphus hanglu, was the state animal of erstwhile united Jammu and Kashmir. Found in the forest ridges of the Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary, the majestic animal is known for its reddish coat and two antlers.

“We are conducting Hangul census from March 10 to 20. It will be conducted on alternate days. Census would be conducted in the entire Hangul habitat right from Dachigam to Shikargah to Wangat. It will cover the entire landscape. The entire manpower will be mobilized. we will also rope in some NGOs. The census will be conducted in three phases. We will carry out field exercise for three alternate days,” Altaf Hussain, wildlife warden, Srinagar, told The Kashmir Monitor.

 The last Hangul census was conducted in 2019. Official figures reveal that the Hangul population was 237 in 2019, an uptick from the 2017 census.  In 2017, the Hangul population was 214. Earlier, Hangul count was 175, 218, and 186 in 2009, 2011, and 2015 respectively.

“The average number of Hangul has increased. It was 237 in 2019 census. Experts who are at the helm of affairs and whose opinions matter have opined that the numbers are quite stable. . Habitat is well intact and Hangul is doing well,” said Altaf.

Hangul is a very shy and elusive animal that is very hard to spot in the woods. Scientists in 2017 achieved a rare feat when they fitted a satellite collar on the critically endangered `Hangul’ to understand their biology, behavior, and ecology in a bid to support the management interventions for the survival of the animal species.

“There is no major threat to Hangul which is very important. There is no major fluctuation. When we talk of an overall landscape which includes adjoining conservation reserves like Tral wildlife sanctuary, things are very good,” Altaf said.

Official figures reveal that 15,806.75 square kilometers of area in Jammu and Kashmir is under the Protected Area Network, which comprises five National Parks, 14 Wildlife Sanctuaries and 37 Conservation Reserves.