Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Presrving Kashmir's Unique Wildlife

Everybody knows that Hangul is special

Hangul: Pride of Kashmir

Fida Ali Lankar (Rising Kashmir)

Hangul or Red Deer (Kashmir Stag) is mostly found in Dachigam. It feeds on broad leaves of herbs and shrubs. A large number of tourists attract Dachigam National Park because of “Hangul”. Mostly foreign tourists are fond of Hangul. The extent of the where Hangul used to feed used to be was very vast, but because of encroachments it has reduced to a great extent. Another factor that is disturbed the life of Hangul is that during summer flocks of sheep and goats come from distant areas for grazing in meadows and hilltops, creating disturbances in the months of May and June which is the period for Hangul to breed. The huge flocks of sheep pose threat to Hangul as they are being accompanied by dogs. Sometimes a young Hangul falls prey to these dogs which results in the decrease in the number of Hanguls.

As if the threat of summer grazing by sheep and goats of Bakerwals were not enough, a government sheep breeding farm took a four square mile chunk out of the lower Dachigam area which was a prime habitat of Hangul. This farm laid a claim to the grassland on the south facing slopes of Dachigam up to the “Droophama”, VIP bungalow and a little beyond. These grasslands are a rarity and were already getting affected because of sheep grazing. The presence of sheep naturally increases the danger of disease as was illustrated in 1977 when a Capdone Hangul in an enclosure died of Shane’s disease. This was believed to have spread from nearly sheep farm. This farm continued to pose problems for the winter feeding. Up to 1987 the Hangul were seen at the entrance point of Dachigam Park. But due to encroachment from last 10 decades Hangul is now rarely visible in this area.

It is heartening to find out that the Wildlife Department has played a very vital role in the preservation of all the wild animals including Hangul. Due to prevailing turmoil extra burden came on the shoulder of Wildlife Department, preferably ward and watch employee. The number of Hangul, which as per latest census is about 180, would have been less due to turmoil and other unfavorable conditions had the employees not put in their bit.

We must note the fact that besides saving Hangul from dangers, new methods must be applied for their artificial breeding as is applicable in various countries of the world. Further Government sheep breeding farm may be shifted to some other places to do away with the apprehension of diseases as well and to restore the earlier catchment area.

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