Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir is home to an impressive flora and fauna, thanks to diverse habitats, a wide altitudinal gradient and climatic variations.
According to official data, J&K and Ladakh have 112 species of mammals. They include 34 globally threatened species with one critically endangered species, 6 endangered, 12 vulnerable and 8 near threatened. Each of these species has an important role to play in sustaining life in the region’s ecosystem. Therefore, it is necessary to take care of them and to cohabit peacefully.
To achieve this goal, World Animal Day is celebrated every year on October 4 to raise awareness of the plight of animals and work to protect them. First organized in 1925, the day aims to draw attention to animal welfare issues around the world. The goal is to improve the lives of all animals, wild and domestic, through recognition and awareness.
On World Animal Day 2021, here’s a look at four endangered and vulnerable animals in Jammu and Kashmir that you should see before they go extinct.
The Kashmiri Red Deer or Hangul: (Cervus hangul hanglu), is listed as Critically Endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list. At the beginning of the 20th century, it existed in the thousands and lived in groups of 2 to 18 in the dense riverine forests of the high valleys and mountains of Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. Over the years, their habitat has been destroyed and they are now one of the critically endangered species.
Currently, the only viable population of Hangul is confined to Dachigam National Park, with some relict Hangul populations also present in the adjacent areas of Brein / Nishat and Shikargah Conservation Reserves and Wildlife Sanctuary of Overa-Aru. Poaching, habitat fragmentation and degradation and pressure from livestock, disease transmission by livestock and other anthropogenic pressures are the cause of its continued decline.
KAshmir Musk Deer: It is a primitive ruminant resembling a deer belonging to the Moschidae family. The deer inhabit the forest and alpine scrub habitats of the mountains of Asia. It is endemic to the Kashmir region of Jammu and Kashmir and is endangered.
It occurs along the northern bank of the Jhelum River, and the current status and distribution of the species in the mountains of Kashmir is poorly understood. Poaching, habitat degradation, cattle grazing and human pressure are the main threats to its survival.
Cashmere Markhor: Markhor (Capra falconeri): Largest wild goat in the world – was in the near threatened category on the IUCN Red List when the species’ most recent assessment was made in 2014. The Markhor is officially protected under the Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife Protection Act.
But it remains highly threatened due to poorly planned development projects, overgrazing by domestic animals, laying of power lines, poaching and fragmentation of its habitat due to fences along the border. between India and Pakistan. This fragmentation has led to inbreeding on both sides.
Snow leopard: Usually endemic to Ladakh, the snow leopard (Panthera uncia) has been classified as vulnerable on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list due to its large-scale poaching. The animal was also listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.
It is a key species and an indicator of a healthy high mountain ecosystem. The snow leopard is the supreme predator of the Himalayan ecosystem. It is found in 12 countries including India, and its global population ranges from 3,921 to 6,290 individuals. Jammu and Kashmir, with a potential habitat of 77,800 km2, is the largest continuous snow leopard habitat in India, occupying 60% of its national range.