Co-existence is the solution
Sheep Breeding Farm, Dachigam is no threat to Hangul; sheep and Hangul can co-exist
FEEDBACK BY PROF TASLEEM AHMED S GANAI
Sheep breeding farm, Dachigam has been focused as one of the main causes for the decline of prestigious Hangul of Kashmir in the recent past. Most of the published statements in this regard are based on speculations rather than facts. The recommendations published in Greater Kashmir, 15 April, 2012 under the title ‘Relocate Sheep Breeding Farm from Dachigam’, are, biased. The consensus at the meet was coexistence of the Sheep Breeding Farm, Dachigam and the National Park rather than shifting of the former as appeared in the report. The expert view was to relocate the flocks from high land pastures, Dagwan, during summer grazing, where sharing of pasture between Farm sheep and Hangul takes place. The published recommendations have ignored the views of many experts who disagreed with the idea of shifting the Farm on single case report of disease being highlighted by the Wildlife Department and with no data to implicate the farm sheep. On the contrary, one of the expert views was that the farm being located at the border-line of the park and near human habitation serves as a buffer zone between the two. It was further argued that there are chances of mixing and sharing of grazing grounds of Hangul and sheep at lower Dachigam area as of the farm is fully fenced. Mr. A.R Wani, Former Chief Wildlife Warden, purported the idea of co-existence which was appreciated by most of the participants. He advised the collaboration between the two departments, with competent human resources on different facets of animal care and welfare, for the efficient welfare of the animals of the National Park. He further stressed that department of Sheep Husbandry should continue to conduct research, at the farm in the lower Dachigam area where they are presently located, and should work in collaboration with Wildlife Department and the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Husbandry, of SKUAST of Kashmir to have a scientific approach towards the wildlife issues of the state in general and Hangul in particular.
Report of transmission of Johne’s disease from sheep to Hangul is arguable for lack of technical evidence. For confirmation of any such case, validation of the pathogen harvested from the case and its mode of transmission has to be established. The livestock maintained by the sheep husbandry department is looked after by professionally trained human resources who undertake periodic screening of flocks and ensure timely remedial measures and, therefore, possibility of disease with focal source point as sheep of the farm is not to be tenable.
During the discussion one of the participants also made a pertinent point regarding the age old grazing rights of the people in higher areas of the National Park and suggested their relocation. Regarding overgrazing and degradation of the pastures, it is hard to believe that with around 200 heads of Hanguls in about 140 sq km area, how 1000 sheep (fed for 4 -5 months within the farm premises) can degrade the pasture. The fact of the matter is that the overgrazing is due to unchecked grazing by migratory flocks and cattle herds in the park area during summer. The presence of D. viviparous (a cattle lungworm) infection in the Hangul as reported in the literature speaks volumes about the wrong implication of sheep for the cross infection to Hangul, however it points eloquently towards infiltration of cattle in the National Park area. This is in place to mention that in the absence of scientific methods of pasture management in the park area, sheep is not the cause of pasture degradation rather sheep manure for its richness in potassium and nitrogen exclusively helps in increasing soil fertility thereby preventing soil degradation. It is because of this attribute of sheep there is an age old adage “Sheep is Gold footed animal”.
In the light of above given facts, people have a right to know as to who were the competent animal health experts who concluded that the sheep of the breeding farm are immediate threat to the existence of Hangul. It is high time to identify the real threats to the existence of Hangul on scientific basis and address them priority-wise and therefore focusing the actual bigger threats rather than less important ones like shifting of farm. I am hopeful that authorities may take judicious view, otherwise, if in spite of shifting the farm the Hangul population does not show comeback, we may lose a great sheep farm (birth place of Kashmir Merino) as well as Hangul.
HOD, Animal and Genetics,
Lastupdate on : Wed, 25 Apr 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 25 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 26 Apr 2012 00:00:00 IST
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