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 user 2006-12-15 at 12:06:00 pm Views: 55
  • #17154

    Insurgency benefits Kashmir wildlife
    wildlife population in Indian-administered Kashmir has undergone a
    “manifold” increase as a result of the separatist militancy that first
    broke out there in the late 1980s.The Chief Wildlife Warden for Jammu
    and Kashmir, Naseer Ahmad Kitchloo says the average increase in
    population of indigenous animals and birds specific to the area is

    The reasons, he says, are simple.
    government asked the locals to deposit their arms with their respective
    police station when militancy started,” he said.”This was done to
    prevent the misuse of weapons and identify illegal ones. It meant that
    local hunters thus had no weapons.”

    The number of leopards has risen enormously
    Naseer Ahmad Kitchloo, Chief Wildlife Warden of Jammu and Kashmir state

    there is another, more important reason behind the dramatic increase in
    wildlife, the chief wildlife warden says.”No one dares to venture deep
    into the forests these days,” he said, “for fear of being caught in
    exchanges between militants and the security forces”.As a result,
    “poaching of wildlife has almost halted for all these years”, he
    said.And that is good news for endangered animals like the leopard, the
    snow leopard, the hangul (a stag found only in Kashmir which is closely
    related to the reindeer) and spotted deer, as well as for numerous
    species of birds.Mr Kitchloo said that the “manifold increase in the
    number of animals like leopards and bears is creating problems for
    people who have been attacked”.He said that there had been a number of
    cases of leopards and bears maiming villagers in remote areas.

    ‘Risen enormously’
    official has no problem providing figures to back up his claims.Before
    the insurgency, he says that the hangul population was between 100 and
    120 in 1990. He says that in 2006 the number is estimated to be over
    250.Mr Kitchloo said that although physical counting of these animals
    was not possible, the figures were compiled using “scientific
    methods”.Similarly the population of Himalayan black bear was between
    700 to 800 in 1990, whereas today it stands between 2,500 and 3,000.He
    said that the number of leopards has also “risen enormously during this
    time”.A similar story applies to the musk deer, a rare animal, with
    between 2,000 and 2,500 believed to be alive today, compared with an
    estimate of between 250 and 300 in 1990.

    ‘Encouraging factor’
    the rare Pirpanjal markhor goat – specific to the Pirpanjal mountain
    range – numbered between 100 and 150 in 1990. Now the numbers are
    estimated to be between 240-300.”This animal is a sought after trophy
    in many European countries that can fetch a minimum of $100,000,” Mr
    Kitchloo said.He stated that although bird counts were always a
    difficult task, “rare and indigenous species like the black partridge
    and the pheasant have increased by a minimum of 50% since
    1990″.Officials lay great emphasis on the fact that “all the security
    forces serving an anti-militancy role in the state – the army,
    paramilitary forces and state police – are under strict instructions
    against wildlife poaching”.But they do not rule out stray incidents
    “happening and going unnoticed”.Mr Kitchloo said that the increase in
    wildlife was an “encouraging factor” for everyone in Kashmir.”It is an
    economy generator and a renewable resource,” he said, “and as far as
    Jammu and Kashmir is concerned, it can only end up attracting tourists
    as well.”