March 2007 News

To Save The Valley's Hangul, Enter The GPS

28 March 2007
The Indian Express

Srinagar: Worried about the dwindling population of the Kashmiri Hangul, the wildlife department is planning to use Global Positioning System (GPS) to step up its conservation efforts. GPS radio collars will be fitted on the endangered deer species to help officials keep track of their movements. A two-member team - scientist Dr Satya Kumar and veterinarian Dr Paraj Nigam - from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehra Dun, is expected to arrive here on Friday to fit the radio collars. The collar, which has been procured by the WII, weighs about 500 grams. 'In the first phase, the collars will be fitted on four hanguls in the Dachigam National Park,' said J&K chief wildlife warden A K Srivastava. Pointing out that the animal is known to move in herds, Srivastava said: 'The GPS radio technology will help us monitor the movement of the hangul. It is a means towards achieving the final goal of preservation.' The WII team is scheduled to stay here for three days. According to a census carried out last year by the WII in collaboration with the J&K wildlife department, the hangul population in Dachigam Park and its surrounding regions - which comprise the species' only habitat in the State - is down to just 115 to 190. In 1989, its population was pegged at 900. Wildlife officials blame the decrease on poaching and loss of habitat. The deer are usually found in the lower regions of Dachigam Park till the first fortnight of April. After that, they move to the upper reaches, and only return around November. 'The animals are regularly sighted during the winters in the Dachigam Park, but we get little information about them once they move up during the summers. Therefore, the GPS radio technology is expected to give us a fair idea about their summer habitat too,' said a wildlife official.


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