The cross-LoC skirmishes between India and Pakistan armies are adversely affecting the wildlife in Poonch and Rajouri districts.
Every time there is a clash between the two armies along the LoC, the natural habitat of the endangered Markhor and other wildlife animals in Poonch and Rajouri gets disturbed. “This causes migration of the wild animals from their natural habitat to the villages,” experts said.
“The expulsion of the wild animals from their natural habitats has always proven troublesome as this leads to man-animal conflict,” they said.
Chairman, Block Development Council (BDC), Mandi, Shamim Ganai said: “Peace between India and Pakistan is a must to save the lives of humans as well as the animals. We both live on Line of Control. If their habitat gets disturbed, they run for safer places and we too try to flee from shelling. Many civilians have lost their lives in cross LoC shelling. Even during night, the firing continues from Pakistan and we feel unsafe in our homes.”
Speaking to Greater Kashmir, Wildlife Warden, Rajouri – Poonch, Mushtaq Choudhary said: “We have a wildlife sanctuary ‘Tata Kutti’ in Poonch and the sanctuary area passes through Chandi Marh, Pir-Ki-Gali and Mandi, whereas some portion touches border with the Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK). This range was demarcated for preservation of Markhors and two reserves have also been established in Mandi area which is the natural habitat of Markhors.”
“Markhors are in good numbers in this Range of Pirpanjal. However, they face problems because of cross LoC shelling,” said the wildlife warden.
Even as the wildlife department has constituted anti-poaching squads and people also cooperate with it, the official said, the wild animals face problems more due to cross LoC shelling.
“The census to count the population of Markhor is yet to start. However, it is in the pipeline. They also have habitats from Mandi-Loran to Sawjiyan (an area close to LoC in Poonch) towards Tangmarg in Kashmir alongside a nallah on the border with Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK),” said the wildlife warden of Poonch-Rajouri. During LoC firing many a time “we have rescued leopards and deer after tranquilizing them”.