By Ishfaq Naseem
The frequent live-stock grazing and poaching of wildlife animals in Hirpora Wildlife Sanctuary has caused decline in the number of wildlife species especially the endangered Markhor-a wild goat- which is at the brink of extinction from the protected area.
Due to failure of the Wildlife department to carry out surveillance in the area, the grazing has become rampant posing a grave risk to the existence of Markhor at the sanctuary located in south Kashmir’s Shopian district. According to officials the construction of Mughal road has also “disturbed’’ the environment of wildlife species and the population of Markhor in the sanctuary has seen a constant decline.
The population of Markhor has declined to nearly 30 from 50 recorded few years earlier at the sanctuary. In India, the wild goat is present in only few of the protected areas like Hirpora Sanctuary and Qazinag National Park in Uri.
“Though the population of Markhor is stable in Qazinag it has seen a drastic decline in Hirpora Wildlife Sanctuary due to constant interference with the habitat of the wildlife animal. The state government has failed to check the livestock grazing and disturbance to the sanctuary due to which population of some other species of animals like Brown bear, Musk Deer, and Tibetan wolf is also seeing decline in numbers,” said an official of the Wildlife department.
According to officials the department has failed to work out any conservation plan for the wildlife species inhabiting the sanctuary.’
Chief Wildlife Warden, A K Singh, however said the conservation plan will begin shortly. “We are working on plans to conserve and protect the wildlife species,” he said.
Officials said the department has failed to preserve Hirpora wildlife sanctuary and the non-traditional herding and ways of grazing have been rampant in the sanctuary.
Nadeem Qadri, Executive Director of Wildlife Conservation Fund (WCF), an organization working for protection of wildlife here said, “The construction of Mughal road which cuts the Wildlife Sanctuary into two parts has had a heavy impact on the flora and fauna in general more particularly Markhor as intense grazing is being facilitated in gross violation of the Apex court orders. The traffic rush passing through the sanctuary area without proper regulation is a matter of grave concern.”
Qadri said Mughal Road inhibits the movement of animals and sanctuary has seen disturbance due to deforestation, excessive livestock grazing and construction of permanent huts by the Gujjars, Bakerwals and local shepherds.