Heavy rush of pilgrims and severe weather conditions have taken a heavy toll on horses and mules. Around 126 horses and mules have already died.
However, unofficially it has already crossed the 1,000 mark.
The state animal husbandry department has registered 126 deaths of horses and mules till July 26 from those registered with the Shri Amarnath shrine board.
"90% deaths occurred due to cardiac arrest as there was lack of oxygen and 10 % were accidental as tracks were slippery," said Dr Mohi-ud-Din Bhat, posted at the Chandanwari camp, 16 km ahead of Pahagam base camp.
Ghulam Muhammad Saad lost a hybrid mule on July 18 at Sheshnag. "It was too cold this year. Tracks were covered with snow. My mule slipped into a deep gorge," said Saad.
Most pilgrims hire the ponies to avoid trekking. Hundreds of extra ponies were put into service by locals due to heavy pilgrims rush this year to make some money.
According to the animal husbandry department, a horse costs between Rs 30,000-50,000, where as a hybrid mule, because of stamina and vigour, costs around Rs 60,000.
"The shine board only pays Rs 25,000 in case of accidental deaths as compensation. The amount is too small given the loss," said Jabbar Malik, who lost a horse in an accident.
In case a pony dies of dehydration, exertion or cardiac arrest, the shrine board does not entertain such cases for damages.