Person of the Year Award Function
Vol 7 Issue 17, Apr 22 - 28, 2016
    Citizen Reporters      |   | Submit Story
Green WarriorsSocial EntrepreneursUnsung Heroes

Sanctuary for Kashmir’s spiral horned Markhor goat

   By  Rajat Ghai
   New Delhi/Srinagar
30 Apr 2016
Posted 16-May-2012
Vol 3 Issue 19

It is an animal that is as much an icon of Kashmir as the beautiful Dal Lake and its shikaras. The magnificent spiral-horned Markhor, the largest member of the goat family, has for centuries inhabited the high mountains of Kashmir.

But human greed and interference have placed this graceful animal on the 'critically endangered' list with barely 350 members remaining.

Markhors, goats typical to the high mountains of Jammu and Kashmir, are the Pride of Kashmir (Photos: Riyaz Ahmed -WTI)

Which is why the notification of the Tatakuti Wildlife Sanctuary near Shopian in South Kashmir by the Jammu and Kashmir government April 27 has come as a big boost to conservationists fighting for the very survival of the Markhor.

Tatakuti is the latest addition to the wildlife sanctuaries and national parks already declared to conserve the Pir Panjal or Kashmir Markhor (Capra Falconeri Cashmiriensis).

Others parks are Hirpora (Shopian), Limber and Lachipora (Baramulla). There is also the Kajinag National Park (Baramulla).

The Pir Panjal Markhor is one of five distinct species found in Asia. It is found only in India's Jammu and Kashmir.

"They were once distributed from Banihal, through the Pir Panjal range, crossing the Jhelum river over to the Kajinag and Shamsabari ranges, into Gurez and then into Pakistan-administered Kashmir. But the present Markhor population is very small and unconnected," says Yash Veer Bhatnagar, Senior Scientist for the Mysore-based Nature Conservation Foundation.

Most experts maintain that barely 350 of this species remain. "As an informed guess, I will put the population at 300-400, with close to 250 being in Kajinag itself," says Bhatnagar.

Though the Markhor is included in the Indian (Schedule 1) and Kashmir Wildlife Protection Acts, the threat against its survival remain very much in place.

Insurgency, cross-border firing, competition with livestock for grazing ground, poaching for its antlers as trophy and for its meat, fragmentation of habitat due to LoC fencing, lack of awareness and developmental projects, all threaten the Markhor.

Given the multi-fold threats facing the Markhor, is it enough to just declare another sanctuary?

"No. Declaring a protected area is just the starting point and not the end of the crusade of conservation. A sanctuary or a national park does give you the necessary legal teeth to fight the odds, but implementation of the laws and execution of strategies on ground is what matters most," says Intesar Suhail, Wildlife Warden, Shopian Wildlife Division.

Perhaps the greatest threat facing the species is competition from herders. In late May-early June, migratory (Bakkarwals) and local herders arrive with their livestock in the protected areas meant for the Markhor. They occupy the grazing grounds and force the Makhor to graze in other, mostly sub-optimal areas.

Speaking for the herders, Mian Altaf Ahmad, state Forest Minister, said: "These people have been doing this for decades. It is the only economic activity they pursue. They have their rights. You cannot deny them those."

How can a balance be then found? "The best way to address the issue is to have a rehabilitation plan for the herders which should include providing alternative grazing areas and if possible, alternative means of livelihood," says Suhail.

"Critical areas like fawning grounds should be spared at least for some time during the fawning season. Similarly, critical habitats like those used in early spring should not be disturbed during that season," says Riyaz Ahmed Peerzada, Manager, Mountain Ungulates Project, Jammu and Kashmir.

Another threat is that the Markhor's habitat borders the volatile Line of Control. Can wildlife conservation override national security?

"LoC fencing is thought to have affected the Markhor movement in Limber and Lachhipora. National security is indeed paramount but the interests of wildlife and biodiversity need to be safeguarded simultaneously," feels Suhail.

Then there is the Mughal Road project, which is being built to connect Srinagar and Rajouri. It would slice through Hirpora, endangering the 50 individuals that reside there.

"The permission to construct the Mughal Road was granted by the Supreme Court only after putting some conditions like extension of the sanctuary area and fencing of vulnerable areas which have been accomplished.

“Further measures like traffic regulation, closure of road during nights and compensatory afforestation of eroded road-sides shall be taken up once construction work concludes," promises Suhail.

What else can be done to manage Markhor population? "Strengthen infrastructure and increase manpower, control grazing, release sites like fawning grounds and spring habitats from grazing, spread awareness, involve locals and punish poachers," advocates Peerzada. - IANS
 



Print  |  Email  | 
 Share   

You might also like:

Parched pain

For women in Kashmir, water is a mirage. They have been trekking long distances, enduring pain to get a pail full for generations. Chetna Verma finds the scene quite close to the film, Jal

Read More

In full gear

The humble bicycle that ran out of the roads is slowly getting back on its wheels thanks to some modern youth. In Bangalore, Ravi Ranjan is one of them, says Marianne de Nazareth

Read More

Stories on Innovations & Innovators
The Lead Star Digital Issue
adyar bakery
 
Mentoring Tamil Nadu



Popular Stories

Family lunch

When there is an eatery at every nook and cranny, why do people travel as far as 200 km for lunch in an obscure village near Erode? Usha Prasad brings the flavour of UBM Namma Veetu Saapaadu, served in a plantain leaf for the whole family

Read More

Grit gets success

From selling samosas on Chennai streets to setting up his own pakora shop to owning a Rs 1.5 crore company supplying delicacies to five star hotels, J Haja Funyamin has come a long way. P C Vinoj Kumar captures the flavour of a success story

Read More

Watershed innovation

Bhungroo in Gujarati means a hollow pipe. But Biplab Ketan Paul gave the word a new meaning by an innovation that has led to water availability, soil improvement and women empowerment, thus helping 14,000 farmers, says Kavita Kanan Chandra

Read More

Momo monarchs

Two friends in Kolkata, keen on turning their culinary delight into business, rejected job offers in a campus interview to start a momo kiosk. Eight years on, their venture started with Rs.30,000 has grown into a Rs.100 Cr entity, says G Singh

Read More

Model farmer

In a region known for farmer suicides and parched fields, Gudivada Nagaratnam Naidu returned to his roots, giving up a job, and went on to create a farm revolution. S Sainath visited Naidu’s farm near Hyderabad that’s even got an apple tree

Read More

Quality of success

Aasife Biriyani, popular among Chennai’s foodies and sold through nine outlets, was dispensed from a pushcart 18 years ago. Founder Aasife Ahmed made it a Rs 70 crore turnover chain by just not compromising on quality, says P C Vinoj Kumar

Read More

A free lunch

An ordinary simple middle class couple has been serving free lunch to 34 senior citizens in Mumbai since 2012. Somma Banerjjee finds out why Yvonne and Mark D’Souza are so selfless in service

Read More

Doctor Poor

A doctor extraordinaire, 33-year-old Sunilkumar Hebbi treats patients for free and has conducted over 650 medical camps in and around Bengaluru, benefitting 30,000 poor people. Usha Prasad tells us how a beggar inspired him to serve the poor

Read More

Caring the carer

People caring for patients in government hospitals often stay hungry. But a Good Samaritan acknowledges their service and takes care of them too by providing them food, says P C Vinoj Kumar

Read More

Water saver

The innovation by Uttam Banerjee is a godsend to the country that needs to go in for water conservation in a big way. Fitting Zerodor, a polymeric wall, to ceramic urinals would save 50,000 to 1,51,000 litres of water, says Narendra Kaushik

Read More
 
Kudos image

"The Weekend Leader not only gives a glimpse of the better things happening around us but also tells stories of people who made it possible.”

Ajay Chaturvedi, Entrepreneur More Kudos
 
Archives  |   Columns  |   About Us  |   Contact Us  |   Feedback  |   Response  |     |   Cheers!  |   Support Us  |   Friends of Positive Journalism
© Copyright The Weekend Leader.com, 2010. All rights reserved.