Pardeep Singh Bali
Sending out alarming bells, 16 out of 21 wild animal species in Jammu and Kashmir are at the verge of extinction and will apparently disappear in next one decade, if nothing concrete has been done.
According to official data, available with Newspoint, there are 21 major wild animal species in Jammu and Kashmir and all are running fast to extinction, in absence of fragile habitations. “Out of 21 wild life species, 16 have been listed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN’s) Red Data Book, which means many are endangered, while some are critically endangered,” said Wildlife official, talking about shared data.
He said that if nothing concrete is done well on time by the concerned department and ministry, there would be no wild life species in Jammu and Kashmir after ten days. Further sharing the detail, official said species found in Jammu and Kashmir included Hangul, Musk Deer, Ibex, Spotted Deer, Nayan (Tibetan Sheep), Markhor, Barking Deer, Shapu, Tibetan Antelope, Serow, Tibetan Gazalle, Black Bear, Tahr, Wild Yak, Brown Bear, Goral, Snow Leopard, Common Leopard, Pallas Cat, Western Tragopan and Cheer Pheasant.
“Out of these species, 16 endangered and critically endangered species included Hangul, Musk Deer, Markhor, Ibex, Serow, Barking Bear, Brown Bear etc,” he said and added that he is afraid as the department of wildlife has not conducted census of various animals since long time, and the current figure indicates that the number of endangered and critically endangered animals has risen.
“The department has not conducted survey of many animals since last many decades, due to which the official data cannot be considered as cent percent accurate,” he said and asserted that the department has no detail about Snow Leopard, Tibetan Antelope, Tibetan Gazelle and Himalayan Tahr.
He further maintained that the primary reason for this decline in the number of animals is illegal poaching and encroachment of wildlife land by the locals in connivance of the wildlife officials. “There are numerous cases of man-animal conflict, wherein animals are being killed. Only and only wildlife officials are responsible for this, as they encourage land encroachment by the locals, even at many places the land is occupied by the officials themselves,” he asserted.
WHAT OFFICIALS SAY
Admitting decline in animal species, wildlife officer-Abdul Rouf Zargar said that population explosion, natural calamity and sinking of habitat are the reasons responsible for this decline. “In the past 20 years, there is a huge outburst in human population, which started occupying animal habitat, due to which animals lost their natural habitation and started moving to unfavourable regions, where they cannot survive for long,” Zarger said and added many of the species are so widely scattered that the department has no access to them, due to which they remain unnoticed.
“Like Brown Bear and other animals, the department is facing difficulty in counting their number, as they are scattered to unfavourable conditions or high altitudes,” he said and added that the department is also not scientifically equipped to ensure their counting with the help of technology.
“The department is also working on to contain the illegal supply of animal derivatives. Some years back, Chiru was smuggled for Shatoos and his poaching was rapid. Even smugglers from China used to poach it, but we have contained it and the number of Chiru is now stable,” he maintained. He said that the major challenges faced by the department are notification of the wild life areas, poor infrastructure, meager allocation of funds and containing man-animal conflict.
“The department is working on all these challenges, but major concentration is focused on rehabilitation of water bodies, demarcation of water bodies and resurrection of endangered animals,” he said and added in this effort, the department needs help from all line departments, from forest to law enforcement agencies.