Need key steps to stop Hanguls from extincting
New Delhi With Kashmir in focus, let’s also focus on saving the Hangul, or Kashmir Stag- a critically endangered deer found nowhere else.
I’ve schlepped across the steep paths of Dachigam, desperate to see a Hangul close-up. I caught a silhouette, far away. It was a thrill, for less than 200 of them remain.
Several reasons fuel the decline: the animal’s habitat is fragmented, a challenge for a herbivore. This must be restored, on mission mode. Also, very few breeding females exist and deathly attacks by other predators reduce numbers.
Occasionally, a friend might point out there’s so much investment required in Kashmir, from jobs to education. Why run after an animal that doesn’t even bring in revenue? I see it differently. We protect biodiversity for it’s own sake. The Hangul is symbolic of Kashmir. It also mirrors the state’s challenges in managing natural resources.
A Kashmiri uncle of mine made it a ritual to look for the Hangul when he ‘went home’. It was an essential part of his landscape. It carries deep meaning for many others too. We know from missions like the Swachh Bharat, that only top level intervention can propel big shifts. Otherwise, plans live in files. Here is a very rare opportunity to stop the Hangul from disappearing from the planet. I am keeping my fingers crossed and my hands folded in prayer.
( The writer is Founder and Director Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group)