Srinagar: The population of endangered Hangul (Kashmir Stag) has registered a marginal increase in the Kashmir Valley.
As per the latest ‘Hangul population estimation census-2021’ conducted by the department of Wildlife Protection, the population of the Hangul is now 261, compared to 237 in 2019.
Pertinently, in the last three consecutive surveys conducted after every two years, the population of Hangul had shown small upward trend. In 2015, the Hangul population was 186, in 2017 and 2019 it was 197 and 237 respectively.
Officials said that at least 350 people from wildlife department, students, volunteers affiliated with NGOs conducted the fresh census-2021 of the endangered Hangul or cervus elaphus hanglu to know the exact population of the animal.
"We have observed a marginal increase in Hangul population in the latest Hangul population estimation- 2021 conducted in the month of April," Regional Wildlife warden Kashmir, Rashid Naqash told Greater Kashmir.
"The census was conducted in the entire Hangul Landscape i.e. around 800 sq km of area which goes up to Shikargah Tral and Wangat, besides Dachigam,” he said, adding that the census was conducted using the transect method.
He said that the people engaged in the process came voluntarily and the department only facilitated them to make the survey transparent.
He said that the census of the Hangul population is conducted after every two years by adopting specific methodology to ascertain growth or drop of the Hangul (Kashmiri stag).
The increase in population of the deer is being attributed to stricter measures taken to end poaching besides involvement of independent volunteers, researchers, students and NGOs, he said.
Conservation of this species assumes great significance as this is the only survivor of the Red Deer group in the Indian Sub continent.
“There are many things that will be seen during the census once the final report is completed, which include the composition of the animal, like how many males and females are there, how long the population of the animal will survive, etc.,” he said.
Hangul, cervus elaphus hanglu, was the state animal of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir State. Found in the forest ridges of the Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary, the majestic animal is known for its reddish coat and its antlers.
Famed for its magnificent antlers with 11 to 16 point, Hangul was once widely distributed in mountains of Kashmir.
During early twentieth century their number was believed to be about 3,000 to 5,000.
Kashmir's 'shikar map' prepared by Maharaja Hari Singh depicts distribution of Hangul in a radius of 40 kms spreading from Karen in Kishenganga catchments over to Dorus in Lolab Valley, catchments in Bandipora,Tulail, Baltal, Aru, Tral and Kishtwar.
Pertinent to mention that in an encouraging sign, a herd of 6-8 Hangul ( Hangul or the Kashmir Stag) had been sighted in Naranag forest area of Wangath in Kangan in central Kashmir's Ganderbal district on July 28 last year.