Population of Kashmir Stag in Dachigam National Park showing upward trend
SRINAGAR: Kashmir Stag, also called Hangul is found in dense riverine forests in high valleys and mountains of Jammu and Kashmir and northern Himachal Pradesh. In Kashmir, it is found primarily in Dachigam National Park where it receives protection, and elsewhere it is more at risk. In 1941, its population was between 3000 and 5000 individuals, but since then habitat destruction, over-grazing by domestic livestock and poaching have reduced population dramatically. The endangered royal stag, popularly known as the Hangul, has shown a gradual increase in its population and a fresh survey in this regard is being carried out through genetic methods. The census carried out in Dachigam National Park in 2021 by the Wildlife department revealed that the population of Hangul showed a significant rise. Presently the Hangul population is 263 as per 2021 census, officials said.
The Hangul Population Estimate (Hangul Census) 2023 will be conducted by the Department of Wildlife Protection in and around Dachigam National Park, which started on March 15 and will continue upto March 20, 2023. The Dachigam National Park will be closed to all tourists from March 15 to March 20in order to facilitate the smooth conduct of the Hangul Population Estimate (Hangul Census) 2023 without any disruptions, according to authorities at the Wildlife Division Centre in Srinagar. DFO wildlife warden central Srinagar said Hangul population estimation is conducted after every two years by adopting specific methodology to ascertain growth or drop of the Hangul (Kashmiri stag).”We are hopeful that a healthy ratio of male, female, fawn would eventually result in an increased population of Hangul in the future,” he said.
The Kashmir stag may also be found in the forests of Kishtwar and Bhadarwah as well as the Dachigam National Park in Kashmir (at an elevation of 3,035 metres).
Pertinent to mention here that in 2020 Hangul or the ‘Kashmir Stag’ had been sighted in Naranag forest area of Wangath in Kangan in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district. “One should be lucky enough to spot a Hangul during a Dachigam visit,” an official said. Constant and regular population monitoring is the only way researchers, scientists and conservationists can get a general idea about a species that is otherwise hard to locate or observe all-year long.