Despite ban on trekking activities and venturing into woods during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in J&K, the trekking and hiking activities have picked up pace in Kashmir region with large number of groups going for high altitude trekking.
In April, the J&K Wildlife authorities issued an advisory barring general public from venturing into woods. The advisory was issued after cases of transmission of coronavirus from humans to wild animals were reported in different parts of the world.
For the one last week after the end of Ramadan, the trekking activities in Kashmir region picked up and large number of trekkers especially in Srinagar were seen taking to woods, sources said.
In Srinagar, large number of trekking expeditions was witnessed this week only with groups scaling Mahadev, the highest peak in Srinagar, sources said.
The trekkers, sources said, reach top of the peak after starting from Dara and via Lidwas areas which fall in the protected Dachigam National Park.
Interestingly, videos and photographs of the trekking expeditions have been posted on various social media pages attracting other trekkers and youngsters to undertake similar expeditions.
Pertinently the Dara area recently was declared red zone by Srinagar administration after surfacing of COVID-19 cases in the locality.
The Wildlife authorities have reiterated that the advisory issued in April in order to avoid transmission of COVID-19 into wildlife from humans is still in place and people should refrain from taking such trips.
"The advisory prohibiting any venturing into protected areas is still in place. Not only people living around peripheries of protected areas should avoid going into wildlife areas, everyone else should refrain from such activities," said Rashid Naqash Regional Wildlife Warden.
He said: "The trekking especially through Dachigam National Park shouldn't be taken, and those who have taken have already violated the advisory. Now, they shouldn't promote their wrongdoings on social media. We request all the trekkers not to venture into wildlife areas.
"We have also witnessed trekking activity around peripheries of Dachigam. We have taken some steps to avoid trekking into the areas. Already the biggest trekking club of Kashmir, J&K Hiking and Mountaineering Club, has put all its activities on hold due to advisory. We hope others also adhere to the advisory."
A trekker who was part of one of the group said that they took extreme care while taking the trip and couldn't hold themselves further back after having a sit at home for more than three months.
"The trekking season in local trekking areas starts in last week of April while as in further deep areas it takes place from June to September. We know that activity is barred but we couldn't hold ourselves back. We didn't tell anyone about our trip and request others also not to put such photographs and videos on social media till advisory is in place," said a trekker from downtown area of Srinagar who also trekked to Mahadev Peak.