SRINAGAR: The state government on Monday set May 31 as deadline to shift sheep breeding farm from Dachigam National Park on foothills of Zabrawan mountain range here to allow endangered Hangul to flourish.
As per government, Hangul, the antlered deer, is under tremendous threat due to various human induced factors, one of them presence of the breeding farm “as any transfer of disease from the sheep would wipe out (its) complete population.”
“In pursuance of Cabinet decision No.5313 dated 18.04.2005, sanction is hereby accorded to the transfer of sheep breeding farm from Dachigam National Park along with immovable assets built by the Sheep Husbandry Department over the years, to the Forest, Environment & Ecology Department,” reads a government order (590 -GAD of 2017) issued here.
It also accorded sanction to the nomination of the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir as the Nodal Officer to facilitate shifting of the breeding farm from Dachigam as well as relocation of the sheep, livestock in the existing farms.
The nodal officer has been also tasked with the identification of the alternate site of the sheep breeding farm in consultation with the officers of the two departments within the same time.
“The Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir shall further have the value of the immovable assets, constructed by the animal/ sheep husbandry department, assessed for being compensated by the forest, environment and ecology department,” it said and ordered completion of the exercise by the end of this month.
The government has also directed animal husbandry department to prepare a detailed project report (DPR) and its submission to the planning, development and monitoring department by or before May 31.
“The implementation of the DPR and all works will be completed by or before the end of September, 2017,” it said.
In the event of requirement of any expenditure for repairs or improvement of the accommodation in the existing farms, the government has ordered that it shall be communicated by Divisional Commissioner Kashmir to the Planning Development & Monitoring Department for reimbursement.
The survival of the Hangul has been long considered crucial to maintaining the ecological balance in fragile environment in Kashmir.
The animal is the only surviving race of the red deer family of Europe in the sub-continent. Some 5,000 of the animals roamed the region in the late 1940s but due to varied reasons, it is battling survival in its last bastion.
Till 1989, the poaching remained the main reason for the decline in Hangul population and brought down the number of animal to 900. As per the latest (2015) survey, the Hangul population is 186, declining from 218 as 2011 census of the animal.
Following the cabinet decision of 2005, the wildlife protection department, as per the government, noticed no response for shifting of the farm by sheep husbandry department despite number of correspondences and finally issued notice for vacation under Jammu and Kashmir wildlife (Protection) Act 1978 on 19 November 2016.
Besides danger of disease, the government insists that while sheep can be reared at any place outside the Dachigam, it’s imposing a huge challenge and competition for grazing grounds to Hangul and as such a threat to the animal.
“There is also lot of disturbance to the Hangul during rutting period in Oak Patch that is largely occupied by Sheep Breeding farm. Dogs in the farm also pose great threat to the newly born hangul fawns in the area. As a result the fawn female ratio and the female male ratios have also gone down according to one study,” a senior government officer said.