Hirpora sanctuary declared no grazing zone

Hirpora sanctuary declared no grazing zone
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Anti-grazing drives in full swing

SHOPIAN: The Hirpora wildlife sanctuary has been declared a no-grazing zone following which authorities have undertaken anti-grazing drives in the forest.
The 341sqkm-sanctuary in Shopian is home to endangered animals like Pir Panjal Markhor, musk deer, brown bear, leopard along with other animals and birds.
The sanctuary saw large scale destruction over the last decade, because of the construction of Mughal Road – as contractors and executing agencies violated guidelines – and large scale grazing of livestock in the area.
Wildlife officials in Shopian told Kashmir Reader that that they received a formal order last month about the no-grazing zone and were asked to implement the order in letter and spirit.
They said, by May 6, 186 herds have been vacated or were stopped from entering into the sanctuary. The officials are even restricting traditional herds into the area. A field officials said once they allow traditional herds, they bring in more and more livestock of other herds.
“We held a meeting with all traditional herds who were raising their livestock since years in sanctuary premises that they can come here only with their own sheep or goat but they too will not be allowed if they brought sheep of other people,” an official said. Insiders said that traditional herders tend to bring in large flocks of other herders into the area.
Large scale grazing within the sanctuary has led to the decline in the wildlife, and officials said, as many as 35 animals and birds in the sanctuary are endangered. Recently, in winters, the spotting of couple of animals in the sanctuary area has raised the hopes of revival of some endangered animals.
Wildlife experts have appreciated the move.
“The grazing by local and non-local herds highly disturb the animals in sanctuary. It reduces their home area and reduces the quantity of food. It also disturbs them in other ways as wild animals are much sensitive. Once there is human interference they get more disturbed,” Showkat Ahmad, a wild life expert said.
Wildlife protection ranger Hirpora, Dildar Ahmad Bhat told Kashmir Reader that they started anti-grazing drives from March 28 on the directions of chief wildlife warden.
“We have four anti-grazing camps in the sanctuary which includes camps at Pir-ki-Gali, Dobijan, Hirpora and Sedow and these are the entry points to sanctuary,” Dildar said.
Dildar added that they have seized the tents, wood and other things of herders and threw them out of sanctuary premises.”
“This year we even didn’t allow the non-local herds to stay in sanctuary area while in past some of them used to stay in sanctuary for a week or so,” he said.
Researchers and wildlife experts said that the grazing on the vast sanctuary was not only a big threat to the wild animals but also causes pollution to catchment of Rambiara rivulet which feeds water supplies of two districts.
Another field officer who has been currently deputed to look after the livestock grazing said that “From this year under recommendations from higher ups, we will not allow herds to go to higher areas which according to experts is home of endangered Pir-Panjal Markhor and several other animals”.
Officials said that they will not allow traditional herds to subvert their permitted land to other people nor they will allow them to bring in more livestock which they don’t own.
“Our prime concern is to make this sanctuary free from grazing and that is why we have ordered the ban on grazing,” Regional Wildlife Warden Kashmir, Rashid Yahya Naqash said.
The sanctuary is also rich in precious herbs including Jogi Badshah, considered a crown of herbs.