Hangul, the Elusive Kashmir Stag, Returns to Gurez Valley

Hangul, the Elusive Kashmir Stag, Returns to Gurez Valley Image/Kashmir life
Hangul, the Elusive Kashmir Stag, Returns to Gurez Valley Image/Kashmir life
Hangul, the Elusive Kashmir Stag, Returns to Gurez Valley Image/Kashmir life
Hangul, the Elusive Kashmir Stag, Returns to Gurez Valley Image/Kashmir life

Hangul, the Elusive Kashmir Stag, Returns to Gurez Valley

Hangul, the Elusive Kashmir Stag, Returns to Gurez Valley

The Resurgence of the Elusive Kashmir Stag: A Ray of Hope for Conservation

In the picturesque Gurez Valley of North Kashmir’s Bandipora district, an enchanting sight has been captivating the hearts of locals and wildlife enthusiasts alike. The elusive Kashmir stag, known as Hangul, distinguished by its remarkable 11 to 16-point antlers, has been making frequent appearances. This reclusive creature, once regarded as a subspecies of the European red deer, is now officially recognized as an independent species by wildlife authorities.

Hope Rekindled for Conservation

The resurgence of the Hangul in the region has ignited a beacon of hope for its conservation. While these sightings bring optimism, they are accompanied by ongoing debates and research concerning its taxonomic classification. Gurez, where the presence of the Kashmir stag had faded into the mists of history, leading to its extinction several decades ago, is now witnessing its welcome return. An official stated, “The recent frequent sightings of the Hangul bring joy to everyone, as it appears that this magnificent animal has gradually returned to the valley.”

A Thriving Ecosystem

The survival of a robust Hangul population serves as a vital indicator of a thriving ecosystem. Furthermore, it contributes to the sustenance of other forms of biodiversity. This remarkable creature plays a pivotal role in maintaining the ecological balance of the region.

Hangul’s Habitat

The Kashmir stag, or Hangul, is known to inhabit the forests of Kishtwar and Bhaderwah. Additionally, it finds refuge within the pristine confines of the Dachigam National Park in Kashmir, where it thrives at elevations reaching 3,035 meters above sea level.

Alarming Population Decline

Records from the wildlife department depict a troubling narrative regarding the Hangul’s population. In 2015, a mere 186 of these majestic creatures were counted, marking the lowest population count in any decade. This stark decline stands in stark contrast to historical figures when the Hangul flourished with an estimated population ranging from 3,000 to 5,000 during the first half of the last century.

Conservation Efforts and Monitoring

To address the urgent need for conservation, a series of censuses have been conducted over the years, including 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2015, 2017, 2019, and 2021. Population estimates during these censuses have fluctuated, with figures in the past revealing counts of 197, 153, 127, 175, 218, 186, 214, 237, and 261, respectively.

The Ongoing Threat to Hangul

Despite the glimmer of hope offered by these sightings, the Hangul species remains vulnerable. It faces significant threats due to its declining population, habitat vulnerability, and other ecological challenges. Wildlife authorities are committed to researching and monitoring the Hangul population within the confines of Dachigam National Park and the surrounding landscapes. As an endemic species and a vital component of the Union Territory’s wildlife, the Department of Wildlife Protection is unwavering in its dedication to safeguarding the Hangul and preserving the unique biodiversity of the region.

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