Monday, April 27, 2009

Conserving endangered Pir Panjal mountain goat

Markhor conservation gets fresh lease of life
Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife Protection Department has decided to develop Markhor Recovery Project at a cost of Rs. 10.72 cr. The said amount was received from the Public Works department, Mughal road project as 5% of the project cost on account of the construction of Mughal Road passing through the Hirpora Wildlife Sanctuary. 
Launching of the Markhor Project will go a long way in conserving this rare species and preserving its habitat spread over the Pir Panjal Range of the Valley.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests, supporting the State’s demand of utilisation of funds deposited under Compensatory Afforestration Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) of the Government of India, has given approval to the Markhor Recovery Plan formulated by the Wildlife Department for development of the Markhor Habitat in the Hirpora Limber, Lachipora Wildlife Sanctuaries and Kazinag National Park.
The State government has already extended the area of the Hirpora Wildlife Sanctuary by 150 sq km and notified the Kazinag National Park. The National Park is the habitat of critically endangered Markhor, the mountain goat, which is also listed in the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). The park is also home to several other endangered wild species like Musk Deer, Asiatic Black Bear, Brown Bear, Himalayan Palm Civet etc. 
As per the 2004 census, Markhor has a population of around 280 to 330 in Kazinag, Boniyar Hirpora areas of Kashmir Valley and Poonch district of Jammu region. A comprehensive Species Recovery Programme for Markhor was set as a precondition for the revival of Mughal Road.
The funds available with the Wildlife Department will be utilized for activities like fencing, habitat improvement, afforestation, soil and water conservation, development of infrastructure like guard huts, staff quarters, check- posts, measures for mobility and communications, fire protection, anti-grazing / anti-poaching activities, construction of nature trails and inspection paths, publicity and awareness, eco-development activities and ecotourism etc, besides regular census and survey of Markhor and other important wildlife species found in the Markhor habitats.