First Research, Healthcare Facility For Wild Animals Set Up At Dachigam

(MENAFN- Kashmir Observer)

Among 208 Wild Animals, 160 Bears; 48 Leopards Die In Kashmir From 2011 To 2020

By Majid Nabi

Srinagar- Department of Wildlife Protection has established a research cum healthcare facility for wild animals, using the most cutting-edge techniques and equipment at Dachigam wildlife sanctuary at Harwan area on the city outskirts.

The facility, officials said, was set up to treat animals, which are either sick or injured during conflicts within the sanctuary, also known as the home of Hangul or Kashmir stag.

Apart from 'group and intergroup' clashing, wild animals have also been at the receiving end when it comes to man-animal conflicts. 15 human fatalities and 162 injuries have been recorded in such clashes in the Valley from 2020-2022.

As many as 141 black bears, 7 brown bears and 12 bear cubs have died in the Valley since 2011 to 2020, Mongabay- India, a portal working on the environment and conservation sector, reported in July last, while quoting official data.

During the same time, the report said, 4 leopards were killed with official consent and 44 others died naturally or in violent incidents like mob chasing. It also reported that 895 incidents of mob attacks like chasing and stone pelting on wild animals were witnessed in Kashmir last year.

Pertinently, a leopard was killed in a violent mob attack at Manzgam area in south Kashmir's Kulgam district on April 2, 2020. A shocking image appeared on social media the next day, showing a few locals peeling off the skinning of a wild cat, which had left several people injured in the village. Authorities later registered a poaching case into the incident.

Similarly A wild bear was rescued by the team of wildlife officials after it came under the attack of a violent mob at Zurhama village in frontier Kupwara district in north Kashmir in April 2020.

Two full-grown Asian Black Bear or (Asiatic Bear) were found dead mysteriously at Bhutto village in north Kashmir's Bandipora district on July 31, 2018.

A wild animal weighing around 140 kilograms and approximately 7-11 years old according to wildlife warden north Kashmir died after suffering possible internal hemorrhage due to gunshot injury in the year 2018.

Ten bears were killed in Tral village of Pulwama district in south Kashmir while another was burnt alive by a violent mob in Shopian district in the year 2010.

Altaf Ahmad, a senior wildlife official, told Kashmir Observer that the healthcare facility at Dachigam national park has been completely dedicated to the wild animals. Besides, he said the facility will also cater as a residential campus for researchers, who could conduct research on different animal species.

He said that a team of wildlife officials is sent to the jungle to check whether any animal is sick or injured which is then brought to the facility for treatment.

“This is a research cum healthcare facility, the first of its kind initiative to treat sick or those animals which are brought in injured state. Animals at times are injured during clashes and are brought to this facility for treatment. Besides, sick animals are also treated here and later released in the forest,” Ahmad added.

He said the veterinarians after treating sick or injured animals take a call whether to rehabilitate them at the facility or set them free in the forest.

“We first make sure whether the animal has received proper treatment and is able to set free in the jungle and then take a call. We have treated leopard, musk deer, brown owl, Hangul and many other species at this facility,” an official posted at the facility told Kashmir Observer.

He said the main focus remains on setting the animal free in the jungle after treatment, but if it is brought in extremely injured condition, it is rehabilitated here.

“Next is a diagnostic laboratory which is equipped with the latest gadgetry, we also want to establish a DNA bank so as to use it as a forensic tool for conservation purposes, it will be a stepping stone towards the conservation efforts,” he added.

He said biometric analyzers and USG machines have also been installed in the healthcare cum research center so that the wild animals get better treatment and rehab facilities.

“The decision to release animals or rehabilitate them is taken only after treatment, we have rescue centers here as well which are equipped with modern gadgetry,” he added.

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