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.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Wildlife Safari in Kashmir

Dachigam National Park adds a new feature

Wildlife Safaris in Dachigam new Attraction for Tourists

Sana Altaf (Kashmir Times)

Srinagar: The commencement of wildlife safaris in Kashmir’s
Dachigam National Park has become a new attraction for the locals and
the visitors here.

Launched in 2009, the eco-friendly battery driven cars, serving as safari vehicles, provide a real time experience of the nature and its beauty. The visitors are taken in by the scenic wilderness in the silent eco-friendly cars amid the green virgin forests where one gets to see all kinds of wild animals.

“We have launched these battery driven cars in the Dachigam so that people can see the wildlife of Kashmir,” said Rashid Naqash, wildlife warden, Dachigam.

The people wishing to take glimpse of the animals are taken in the car which drives through the park. The wildlife department charges Rs 500 a car to carry a maximum of four people through the Dachigam wildlife sanctuary.

"We take the visitor close to nature where they see different wild animals. It is completely safe,” said Naqash. The drive through the park takes over an hour. Tourists observe the animals from their cars.

The Dachigam wildlife sanctuary sprawls over an area of 140 square kilometers. It is home to endangered red deer, black and brown bears, musk deer, leopards and large bird species such as black partridge and pheasants.

“It is really wonderful to visit this wildlife sanctuary. This gives a new face of Kashmir,” said Manisha, a visitor from West Bengal, who had come to Dachigam.

“We spotted black bear and deer during our trip into the sanctuary. It was for the first time I saw them so closely,” said Vineet, Manisha’s son.

“During the drive through the sanctuary, one does not realize that we live in cities. You feel cut off from the world,” says another visitor.

For locals, the pleasure of the going into the sanctuary is no less.

“We are happy that government has started these cars like safaris. Kashmir has unique wildlife and it has to be made attractive to people,” said Firdous Ahmad.

“Dachigam has always been my favorite place. And these safaris have added to its attraction now,” adds Maqbool, a student.

In the past two decades of conflict, no facilities of safaris were available in any National Park of the state. The presence of security forces and militants in the forest kept people largely from going to such places. Initiatives were taken only after there was a dip in the militancy related activities in the forest areas.

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