Hot March Leads Kashmir Shepherds To Early Migration28 March 2010
Srinagar: The unusually high temperatures in the plains and the valley have led to thousands of nomadic Gujjars and Bakerwals - the shepherds - starting their annual move up the mountains along with their livestock much earlier than usual. The nomads move to mountains in summers, usually in April-May, along with their cattle and sheep and put up for six months at pastures there. They return to the plains of Jammu in October to spend the winters. 'But this year, the tribals' journey to Shivalik and Pir Panjal mountains has started early in end-March,' said Javed Rahi, secretary of the Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation. The temperature in Jammu region is already around 36 degrees Celsius. 'It is after 29 years when these nomadic tribes had preponed their seasonal migration because of abnormally high temperature in March, when the maximum temperature is eight degrees above normal level,' he said. 'The summer migration starts towards Himalayas around or after third week of April every year, but this year due to the unusual increase in temperature they were compelled to prepone their onward journey by one month.' The Gujjars and Bakerwals live by cattle rearing and hence they annually migrate to climatically comfortable areas where fodder for livestock and their sustenance is easy. The Gujjars recount they had faced same type of unusual temperature way back in 1979, forcing them to start their migration a month earlier, Rahi said. According to a meterological official, the increased temperature has been caused by the Western disturbances. 'We are not forecasting any rain as of now. In view of the present situation, the temperature will only rise further in the coming days,' the official said.