Recovering Kashmir Red Deer (Cervus elaphus hanglu) from its relic population in Dachigam National Park of Jammu and Kashmir State, India.

The only population of Kashmir Red Deer or Hangul (Cervus elaphus hanglu), endemic to Jammu and Kashmir State of India, has drastically declined with its population figures bouncing down from 2000 in 1947 to mere 200 heads in 2011, thereby pushing the species squarely towards extinction. Shrinking habitat, over the years, forced the confinement of this animal to Dachigam N. Park of Jammu and Kashmir, which, down the timeline, got its identity established as last abode of hangul. Now, the said national park too faces large scale livestock grazing in hangul’s summer habitat and lot of biotic interference in its lower parts used as hangul’s wintering ground thereby adding more to perilous state of this animal.
The resolve to focus on this species has largely been on the basis of the preliminary assessment of degradation and loss of hangul’s summer habitat by overgrazing, pollution producing factories & quarries on the periphery of the NP and biotic interferences due to Sheep Breeding Farm, Fisheries Hatchery, Guest House and security forces camps in the hangul’s wintering ground inside the national park.
The incremental loss suffered by this specie over the years, gives a clue that it continues to usher under a constant stress. However, the new information about the distribution of hangul in other areas, though not reliably confirmed, raises many concerns about the most effective approach, including the spatial scale, at which to manage and recover this species.
This presentation aims at proposing a landscape-scale approach for the management of Dachigam NP as hangul's last bastion with the application of principles of meta-population theory so that disjunctive hangul populations elsewhere, if any, are managed as intensively as Dachigam hangul population. The critical attention to address the problem may include: (a) developing habitat models, (b) reducing threats, (c) maintaining a lasting supply of key resources and (d) planned habitat development programs.

Geographical scope:

India
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