Person of the Year
Vol 7 Issue 6, Feb 5 - 11, 2016
    Citizen Reporters      |   | Submit Story
Green WarriorsSocial EntrepreneursUnsung Heroes

Sanctuary for Kashmir’s spiral horned Markhor goat

   By  Rajat Ghai
   New Delhi/Srinagar
11 Feb 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:

On fast track

Indian cricketers, including Dhoni and Sachin, let their hair down after their historic whitewash of Australia by zooming and careening around the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida

Read More

All for love

Kanchana is a well-known social worker in Kozhikode, whose social mission is fulfilment of a vow she made to the mother of the man she loved, Moideen, who died young before they could marry

Read More

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



Popular Stories

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

Space to farm

In the US, Rikin Gandhi aspired to be an astronaut but landed in the pastoral fields of India to develop Digital Green, an initiative that helps farmers. He now feels “people can choose agriculture and be prosperous.” Partho Burman reports

Read More

Master potter

In a government school in Tamil Nadu, students are not just taught but trained to be achievers. Like a potter churning vessels from clay, the headmaster M Karunanithi shapes children from poor homes for big things. P C Vinoj Kumar checks out

Read More

People’s monk

The Roti Bank, started by Tara Patkar and few others, has brought down begging in Uttar Pradesh’s Bundelkhand region. Narendra Kaushik tells us the story of the journalist-turned social activist who is changing the lives of the local people

Read More

PM’s couturiers

Do you know Jitendra and Bipin Chauhan? Well, you will if we introduce them as the Prime Minister’s personal tailors. The brothers, however, came up the hard way after their father suddenly took to sanyas. P C Vinoj Kumar has their life story

Read More

Living raconteur

Preserving a dying tradition of story-telling in this digital age, Deepa Kiran enthralls people, mainly school children, with her multiple skills. S Sainath profiles the woman from Hyderabad who can explain the power of 2 using a chessboard

Read More

The app man

A school teacher from Rajasthan was toasted by the Prime Minister at the Wembley Stadium during his UK visit. Partho Burman has the story of the self-taught Imran Khan who has developed 54 education apps, besides some websites, all for free

Read More

Walking tall

A matchstick factory sacked him when he joined the communist party and fought for employee rights, but VKC Mammed Koya, a class seven dropout went on to build a footwear brand that’s now making Rs 1500 crore turnover, says Renitha Raveendran

Read More

Road fixer

In the family that names children after freedom fighters, it was natural that he was called Gangadhara Tilak. But he continued the tradition of being a do-gooder, filling up potholes on roads, spending his own money and time, says S Sainath

Read More

Bridging villages

Boatman Sheikh Lalchand of Kulia village in Howrah district has singlehandedly built a bamboo bridge across River Mudeswari, connecting people of three panchayats with the mainland. And the bridge has been rightly named after him, says G Singh

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.