Save HANGUL, but don’t deprive SHEEP
Shifting of Sheep Breeding Farm, Dachigam should not be politicized and argued in a layman’s language
M. M. WILLAYAT
Existence of Sheep Breeding Farm, Dachigam, on the periphery of the National Park- a controversial issue between the two state departments since decades, has triggered a public debate. “Relocate the Sheep Farm, Dachigam”, a demand of the Wildlife department, however, has not gained much public attention due to unconvincing reasons of attributing its presence to the downfall of threatened Hangul. Let us analyze as to whether Sheep Breeding Farm, Dachigam poses a threat to the endangered Hangul or not.
The Farm was established in 1961- the time when Hangul numbers had already declined from approximately 2000 in 1946-47 to only 400 in late fifties as reported in the “Occasional Report No 27”, published by Wildlife Trust of India & Wildlife department, J&K Govt. (2009). In the same report, details about the Hangul numbers from 1966 to 2004 are depicted as bar diagram. It is mentioned that the Hangul number declined from 400 in 1966 to 150 in 1970, rose to 400 in 1982 and again declined to approximately 130 by 1992. The number then shows an increasing trend, reaching 450 in 2002, thereafter declining to approximately 200 by 2004. While an increasing trend in the Hangul numbers was reported from 1990 to 2002, no concomitant changes/alterations were noticed in the housing and grazing pattern of sheep & goats at Sheep Breeding Farm, Dachigam. The fact is that the public encroachment/ hunting was at its peak before 1989, got limited between 1989-2002 due to the presence of security forces and the militants at the alpines and possibly reverted back to its status since 2004 due to better ground situation. In this whole scenario, what role Sheep Breeding Farm, Dachigam has played, is a question to ponder upon?
Going back to history before partition, Hangul was present in Bandipore, Gurez, Sindh Valley, Drass Valley, Lidder Valley and Desu besides some parts of Himachal Pradesh. “Hunt for Hangul”, a publication by the Wildlife department states that “the only viable population of Hangul today is the Dachigam population”. Where has the other population gone and who should be blamed for that? In fact Hangul population is definitely limited now to only Dachigam region more so because of the availability of “easily caught and hunted” sheep and goats for its predators.
Cattle, sheep, goats & deer are prone to infection by Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis, (causative agent of Johne’s disease) under natural and farmed conditions of rearing throughout the world. The disease is more prevalent in farmed animals and those kept in captivity. Only one such instance was reported in Hangul by the Wildlife Department in 1977 (Threatened Deer: Proceedings of a Working Meeting of the Deer Specialist, Nature, 1978, pp: 106). In these proceedings, Director Games and Fisheries, J&K, is quoted to have stated that 120-150 sheep had also died due to Johne’s disease at the farm prior to the death of Hangul. As a professional and having worked in the Department of Sheep Husbandry as Research Assistant during that period, I have not come across any such alarming situation. In fact the infectious diseases follow a definite pattern and their seriousness is generally depicted by ‘morbidity’ and ‘mortality’ rates. Johne’s disease, being a chronic wasting disease with a mortality rate of about 1%, does not generally cause heavy losses due to deaths but causes economic losses through less feed conversion & weight losses. Furthermore, not a single case of Johne’s disease was ever reported in Hangul since 1977. Surveillance of infectious diseases and culling of the positive cases is a mandate of Sheep Husbandry Department and is followed in letter and spirit which is substantiated by the fact that the disease was not reported in the Government farms of the valley since 1980.
Shifting of Sheep Breeding Farm, Dachigam to some other location, on the contrary should not be politicized and argued in a layman’s language. If it is to beautify the National Park and/or to make it an ideal place to be visited, then the local constructions/ huge private structures, almost on the neck of the park, should have been discouraged in the first instance. In the absence of a solid reason by the Wildlife Department, shifting of the Sheep breeding farm should be to the advantage of the Sheep Husbandry Department and not a mere “wolf and the lamb” story. The department should demand latest housing and disease diagnostic facilities for sheep & goats besides exchange of land, if at all it is required.
The Wildlife Department should also concentrate on real problems of the down fall of Hangul since it is a multi-factorial issue with location of the sheep farm hardly contributing to it. The department needs to go into the depth of the problem and avoid mere speculations based on some sporadic reports leading to confusion and contradictions. Just to mention; in one of the publications, decline in the Hangul number is attributed to slaughtering for food by security forces and militants at the alpines (“Causes of decline of critically endangered hangul deer in Dachigam National Park, Kashmir” :A review, by Shah et al, International Journal of Biodiversity and Conservation Vol. 3(14), pp. 735-738, Dec. 2011), while in the other, militancy helped in increasing the number of Hangul as the presence of militants and the security forces at the alpines discouraged hunting by locals (“Kashmir conflict spares wildlife” by Sana Altaf, guardian.co.uk, Thursday 16 June 2011). In yet another report, the Regional Wildlife Warden Kashmir, states that “the predator-prey ratio between Leopard- Hangul has observed a major shift and according to a survey there has been a sudden increase in the leopard population inside the Dachigam park which has disturbed the Predator-Prey ratio between leopard and Hangul resulting in a drop in the number of young fawns who fell prey to leopards.”
Faculty of Veterinary Sciences & AH is an institute of excellence and has recently done a commendable job in developing “Noorie” through cloning. The breeding policy of Hangul needs to be framed in consultation with geneticists, gynecologists and animal breeding specialists of the SKUAST- Kashmir as the matter concerns the state and not mere Wildlife department. The Wildlife department should understand that the work in isolation does not work. Problems related to health of wildlife in general and Hangul in particular, should be taken up with the microbiologists, parasitologists, pathologists and veterinary public health specialists of the SKUAST-Kashmir to understand the health/ disease status of all wildlife particularly the Hangul. In the absence of a scientific reasoning, the department should also think that if Sheep Breeding Farm, Dachigam is relocated and the number of Hangul stills declines, then what? We should also not wait for ideal conditions defined in the literature for establishing the “National Park” as there are no such examples all through the world. Furthermore, one of the major issues in the developing world is the lack of enforcements of existing laws. We have very effective laws pertaining to corruption, yet the ground reality is opposite. Power Development Department is striving hard for last 50 years for metering the household power consumption? Polio eradication programme was to be completed by 1994. Likewise, migratory flocks continue to graze in Dagwan and Nagaberan despite hue and cry by the Wildlife department, burning of woods for coal, timber smuggling, grass cutting and above all, hunting for meat and other products will continue for obvious reasons of illiteracy, ignorance, poverty, bribery, politics and what not. How can this all be changed overnight especially in a place like Kashmir where uncertainty is prevailing through history?
Feedback at email@example.com
Lastupdate on : Mon, 21 May 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 21 May 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 22 May 2012 00:00:00 IST
- MORE FROM GK MAGAZINE
‘Infants Die Of Various Complications’
Srinagar, May 21: Lack of healthcare facilities at district level is forcing people to shift their children to GB Pant Hospital here for treatment which in turn is showing impact on the medicare at the More
- Srinagar City
ADB yet to approve funding for much hyped project
IN October 2009, Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah announced that a mega flyover would be constructed between Jehangir Chowk and Natipora within a timeframe of three years asking the concerned agencies to More
GK NEWS NETWORK
Jammu, May 21: The traffic signals would be soon installed at 30 important crossings in the Jammu city for the better management of the vehicular movement in the winter Capital. This was stated by More
- South Asia
NISAR AHMED THOKAR
Islamabad, May 21: President and Prime Minister of Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK) Sardar Muhammad Yaqoob Khan and Chudhary Majeed on Monday paid glowing tributes to Kashmiri martyrs. Addressing More
Albuquerque (New Mexico), May 21: Millions in Asia and the western United States watched as a rare “ring of fire” eclipse crossed their skies. The annular eclipse, in which the moon passes in front More
New York, May 21: Two new studies indicate that people who suffer sleep apnea have a higher risk of developing cancer. Due to be presented in San Francisco this week at an American Thoracic Society More