SINAGAR: Scientists will tag four more Hanguls at Dachigam park with satellite collars this year, after similar tagging of a lone Hangul in 2013 helped them gain insight into the behavior of this highly endangered animal.
The satellite monitoring of Hangul will be carried out by the Centre for Mountain Wildlife Sciences of Sheri-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Shuhama, in collaboration with JK Wildlife Protection Department and the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun.
Dr Khursheed Ahmad, principal investigator of the project told Kashmir Reader that in 2013 an adult male Hangul was tagged with GPS-satellite collar and then monitored on a regular basis through real-time satellite link by the scientists.
The monitoring enabled the scientists to study the animal’s movement, seasonal foraging patterns and other behaviors since 2013.
Dr Kursheed said that by tagging four more Hanguls, the study this time would provide researchers a better understanding of how the animal behaves and lives in groups.
The earlier research on tracking by satellites according of Kursheed has also given insight not only about the expanse of the park traversed by Hanguls, but also on how they avoid certain areas they see as threat because of human interference.
The results of the research would facilitate better management of these endangered species within its last abode and help scientists plan some future projects.
“In the past, we relied on humans studying the animal behavior and their movements, but now technology gives us more accurate and diverse results,” Dr Khursheed said.
Dachigam National Park, the last habitat of the Hangul, near Srinagar is a 141-sq km multi-terrain expanse, starting from the foothills of Zabarvan mountain range to the high-altitude ridges and lakes towards Nagaberan, Tral.
Satellite collaring is tedious job. Wildlife experts have to habituate the animal before it is captured with the help of tranquilizers.
“The operation has to be so effective that an animal must not know what has happened to it and it is always vital that the animal is fitted with the collar quickly so that he can rejoin its herd,” Dr Khursheed said.
Hangul is the only Asiatic survivor of the red deer specie, which was declared as a critically engendered species in the Red List of The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) in 1996 and also listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to which India is a signatory.
At present, the animal has lost its conservation status in the IUCN Red list of the Species. However, Hangul, being the state animal of the Jammu & Kashmir State, is protected as a Schedule-1 species under both Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1978.