As a teacher educator I got an opportunity to visit hundreds of school across the valley, it includes schools located in geographically challenged areas. During my visit I asked the students to write an essay about the wildlife life in Jammu & Kashmir.
When I collected their essays and evaluated them I found that the students have very low awareness about the wild life in J&K. Then I interacted with the teachers, their level of awareness regarding the wildlife of J&K was also found low.
To create awareness among the teachers & students I delivered extension lectures on preservation of wildlife. During BEd/ MA contact classes I requested the concerned coordinators to assign me “Environmental education” paper for teaching the pupil teachers.
Accordingly students were deputed to adjoining areas of sanctuaries, national parks, reserves for creating a pro-friendly wild life attitude among the masses.
The purpose of writing this article is to make common man aware about the importance of the wildlife and familiarise them with the measures for protecting and preserving the flora and fauna.
The Department of Wildlife Protection, Jammu and Kashmir 1978 evolved from erstwhile J&K Game Preservation Department, created under the Game Preservation Act, 1942 to protect and preserve the “Game” in the erstwhile J&K State.
The “Game” included few species of wild animals and birds considered important from hunting point of view as a sport. Prior to enactment of Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1978, few areas called “Game Sanctuaries”, “Game Reserves” and “Reserve Areas” were regulated under a set of various rules to provide protection to few species of wild animals and birds considered important from shooting and hunting point of view.
Since the creation of the Department of Wildlife Protection, the Jammu & Kashmir Government has taken a series of measures for conservation of forests and the Wildlife.
The UT Government has notified about 4861.28 sq km as Protected Area Network comprising of 4 National Parks, 14 Wildlife Sanctuaries and 30 Conservation / Wetland Reserves.
The Department is making all possible efforts for conservation and propagation of wildlife species and their habitat. The J&K Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1978 was amended in 2002 on the lines of the National Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
After the enactment of Jammu & Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019 by the Parliament, the Jammu & Kashmir Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1978 was repealed. Accordingly Central Act, i.e., Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 became applicable to the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir. Now, the legal provisions for Wildlife Protection in Jammu & Kashmir are same to those in the other parts of the Country.
The main objectives and functions of the Department are management & habitat improvement of Protected Areas; Anti-poaching and anti-smuggling drives; wildlife crime control; Wildlife health care, monitoring, rescue, rehabilitation and release of wild animals; man-wild animal conflict resolution; Eco-tourism promotion; Awareness & nature education; Research and training programmes. General public , students can pay a pro –active role in helping the department in realizing these tangible objectives.
Reasons of Extinction
Extinction refers to disappearance of a species from earth when its last surviving member dies. It is a natural but slow process due to unplanned activities of man. There are a number of causes which are known to cause extinction of wild life:
Destruction of Habitats: New human settlements have come up right into the hitherto natural habitats of the wildlife. Houses have been built deep into the forests and this is coupled with grazing and felling of trees that has literally pushed wild animals to the brink. Destruction of natural habitats causes the most serious threat to the wild life. It is due to (a) Filling drainage of wet lands (b) Setting up of dams and reservoirs destroys habitats of wild life and prevent sprawling as well as migration of certain fishes (c) Mining, building of roads in ecologically fragile areas (d) deforestation caused by shifting cultivation, fire overgrazing
Indiscriminate Hunting: It is of three types: (i) Sport Hunting, killing animals for recreation (ii) Subsistence Hunting, killing animals for safety and food (iii) Commercial Hunting, killing animals for profit through sale of their fur and other products e.g Cheetah (Acinomyx jubatus) the fastest mammal of India have recently disappeared mainly due to extensive hunting. Many species of fish, molasses, sea turtles, sea-cows and whales are facing extinction.
Introduction of Exotic Species: Intentional or chance introduction of exotic species into new islands by man adversely affects the native species. They cause ecological imbalance due to removal of biological control e.g., imported goats and sheep introduced into national parks are destroying the habitats of several native plants, birds and reptiles. The exotic fish trout (Salmo) are endangering many native fish species in Vailoo Anantnag.
Over-exploitation of Natural Resources: Over fishing, mechanical catching of animal species etc. is a serious threat to the wild life.
Economic Consideration: Highly priced articles or scare commodities are always in demand and poachers take risk for obtaining the same, e.g., musk deer (Moschus omoschiferus) and great one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) in India are being extensively killed for the medicinal importance of their musk and rhino-horn respectively.
Highways: A number of wild animals are confused and get killed by heavy traffic on highways thus causing decrease in their number.
Lack of Education: Majority the people in J&K are not aware of the importance of wild life and the long consequences of its destruction. Proper education can greatly help in saving wild life.
Official Laxity: Sometimes authorities are non –serious in the implementation of Wild Life (protection) Act in letter and spirit
Dr Showkat Rashid Wani, Senior Coordinator, Directorate of Distance Education University of Kashmir
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.