While years of violence have been detrimental to Kashmir in all respects, there is a silver lining. The Valley, known for its natural beauty and enormous habitat, has seen manifold increase in wildlife in the years of violence.
A document published by the Ministry of Home Affairs in October this year shows that there has been a 20 to 60 per cent increase in wildlife in the years of violence. Experts say that besides the conservation efforts, the poaching had decreased during the militancy years.
The increase has been seem in most of the endangered species like Hangul, Himalayan black bear, musk deer, the rare Himalayan goat Markhor.
``The areas which form the natural habitat of these animals had become inaccessible during the years of militancy. Heavy security presence in the areas also deterred the poachers, said Nasir Kitchloo, the regional wildlife warden for Kashmir region.
According to him, the order by government of the state to deposit all licensed, unlicensed arms at the nearest police station during early years of militancy also helped in reducing poaching. ``There have been stray instances of poaching reported in the last 20 years. When people had no arms they would not go for Shikar (hunting). Because a lot of people in the valley hunted for fun as well," he added.
*Hangul population found in North Eastern and North western belt around Dechigam sanctuary, that was between 100 and120 in 1990 is estimated to be over 250-270.
*The Himalayan black bear or Asiatic bear that were estimated to be between 700 and 800 in 1990, today stands between 2,500 and 3,000.
* The Himalayan musk deer in north-east Kashmir too has shown considerable growth. While only 200 to 300 were estimated to be alive in 1990, the number has gone up to 2000 to 2500 this year.
*Similarly, the Pirpanjal markhor goat, specific to just the Pir Panjal mountain range, in number between 100 and 150 in 1990 , are now estimated to be between 240 and 300.
The state is home to 75 mammal species. Birds form the largest group followed by mammals, reptiles, fishes and amphibians. The avian diversity of the state varies according to the season as the valley sees thousands of birds coming to its wetlands and marshes.
Kashmir has 358 species of birds. 14 species of amphibians and 68 species of reptiles. The available data suggests that 44 species of fishes and as many as 225 species of insects can be found in the state. However, the story has another side as well. Wildlife experts say the increase in some populations like leopard and bear has resulted in increased man- animal conflict. Seven people in South Kashmir were killed this year.