Vol 6 Issue 48, Nov 27 - Dec 3, 2015
    Citizen Reporters      |   | Submit Story
Green WarriorsSocial EntrepreneursUnsung Heroes

Sanctuary for Kashmir’s spiral horned Markhor goat

   By  Rajat Ghai
   New Delhi/Srinagar
01 Dec 2015
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  | 

You might also like:

After moths

As a lepidopterist, V Shubhalaxmi has been to the wildest of forests, chasing butterflies. But in the urban jungle she creates awareness on the beauty of insects and moths, says Quaid Najmi

Read More

Say yes to life

Close to 3000 children below 14 years committed suicide in 2009. To prevent such suicides, 8 youth in Kanpur made a film, 'Last Option,' which has got nearly 2 lakh views on You Tube. Arpit Gupta tells us how the six-minute video clip clicked

Read More

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

Popular Stories

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

Rescue robot

‘Borewell robot’ that can save children from borewells will now be used by fire service and NDRF. Its innovator, a former plumber, built it after his son escaped death, says P C Vinoj Kumar

Read More

New standards

You need vision, courage, and confidence to create a school, where a student is given 10 bonus marks just for asking a tough question to the teacher, which they cannot answer. Partho Burman profiles the visionary educationist, Virendra Rawat 

Read More

Another stork tale

Fascinated by the rare Greater ‘Adjutant’ Stork in the fields on her way to school in Assam, Purnima Devi Barman grew up to learn that it has become rarer and launched a campaign to protect the species. Kavita Kanan Chandra tells the story

Read More

Model village

Led by a woman, Zamin Devarkulam in Tamil Nadu is a model village for India. It has no fan club, party flag or liquor shop and many of its youth work abroad, says P C Vinoj Kumar, who was amazed by the security that CCTV cameras provide

Read More

Joy to couples

Anand in Gujarat made its farmers happy through a White Revolution. Now a doctor there is making childless couples happy. P C Vinoj Kumar profiles Nayana Patel, whose fertility clinic, Akanksha, saw its 1000th child birth through surrogacy

Read More

New life

She has worked with women in distress in Mumbai and victims of Bhopal gas tragedy. Now, her New Light is a project that has pulled children of Kolkata’s red light areas out of darkness. G Singh met Urmi Basu, a social worker extraordinaire

Read More

Drive the PUV

A family car, a pickup truck, a mini-generator and more - all rolled into one for a genre called Personal Utility Vehicle. Partho Burman checks out the one of a kind vehicle, Multix MX, that’s been launched to meet the needs of entrepreneurs 

Read More

Captor of moments

Forced to work in a studio at the age of nine, Prakash Tilokani picked the nuances of the art to emerge as a leading wedding photographer having top business families and Bollywood celebs as clients. Kavita Kanan Chandra chronicles his life

Read More

Water saver

Executing water conservation projects in over 4,200 locations is no joke. But Ayyappa Masagi has done that and more to save water, says Ruchita S, who drove 119 km to find out why the much honoured man is called a ‘Doctor of Dry Borewells’  

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, 2010. All rights reserved.