The Hangul Breeding centre in Shikargah’s Tral has been made functional again as two female Hangul have been moved into the centre, officials said.
Officials told the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) that a Hangul breeding centre was established in Shikargah Wildlife Sanctuary on which crores of rupees were spent in 2011. After its completion, a Hangul was housed in it but it became a victim of a leopard.
An official said that all necessary work was carried out for the last three years so that Hangul can be kept in the centre without falling prey to wild animals.
“We had kept vegetables, salt and other things near the gate of the centre where our cameras had already captured the movement of the Hangul. We tried to habituate them naturally and have had success in moving two female hangul there,” the official added.
He said that efforts are on to move male hangul into the centre for breeding. WildLife Warden, Shopian Division, Intisar Suhail said that moving of these two female individuals of Kashmiri Stag has a huge significance as it is the only place in the world where you have two individuals of critically endangered species of Hangul in captivity.
“Hangul were moving close to the breeding centre for the last several months but as per our motive we were able to lure them and move them successfully into the centre,” he said.
He said that this is an off display facility because they want to ensure that the species don’t get disturbed by any sort of hindrances.
“This is a scientific project for conservation of a wildlife species and no one is allowed inside unless there is some emergency,” he added.
“There are three male hangul members in Shikargah forests and efforts are on to move male hangul into the centre without handling them for breeding program.
“Number of in-situ and ex-situ measures has been taken to conserve the critically endangered Hangul species and the establishment of this centre is one of them,” he added.
He added that infrastructure for this project monitored by Central Zoo Authority of India and as per census in Shikargah forests that was carried out in 2021 with the help of camera traps and a population of 14 species including male, female and fawn was found.
Notably, several Bollywood celebrities have visited the sanctuary in the past. Poached for its meat, antlers and skin, the population of Hangul has been on the decline for the past many decades.
From around 3,000, the figure dropped to 900 in 1989 which dwindled to near about 200 a few years ago but in the last few years have seen an upward trend in their number.
Conservation of Hangul assumes great significance as the species is placed under Schedule-I in the Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1978 (amended up to 2002) and the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
It is also listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna