Kashmir focuses on preserving its wildlife
6 October 2006
Indo-Asian News Service
Jammu: While restoring peace to the violence-battered state is its primary goal, the Jammu and Kashmir government is also on a mission to better manage its forest reserves and its rare wildlife, including the hangul deer, snow leopard, musk deer and the black-necked crane.The state has four national parks, 14 wildlife sanctuaries and 35 conservation reserves. Jammu and Kashmir, which has been celebrating Wildlife Week since Monday, is keen to reverse the losses its wildlife habitat has suffered in the last 17 years of militancy.'All these parks, sanctuaries and reserves are being managed on modern scientific lines to ensure proper habitat management,' said Forests Minister Qazi Mohammad Afzal.According to him, about 15,780 sq km - forming 15.60 percent of the total geographical area of the state - had been notified under the protected areas network. The degradation of forests and losses to the reserves had resulted in leopards walking out of the jungles and attacking people. Last week there were two instances of leopard attacks in Rajouri district in which two people were killed. There were similar reports from Doda district too, the minister said. 'This is because man has failed in his duty of maintaining the reserves. These incidents should serve as an eye-opener for all of us. Saving wildlife and keeping them confined to their parks and sanctuaries is a necessity and important for our environment as well.' Efforts were being made to save some rare species like the hangul deer found only in Kashmir, snow leopards, the ibex mountain goats, chiru antelope valued for its soft wool, the markhor goat- antelope, musk deer, black and brown bears and black-necked cranes.'People living near forest areas need to be more involved in the protection of wildlife.' He asked the departments concerned to work in coordination to ensure better results.