Endangered Wildlife

Prof. (Dr) R.D. Gupta
Owing to presence of great diversity in the climate, altitudinal conditions and geological formations, the Jammu and Kashmir State has led to an ideal environment for a rich variety of wildlife. The state of Jammu and Kashmir has also a rare distinction of being inhabited by fauna of both, the oriental and the European genera. The rare mammals of the state consist mostly of Kashmir stag (Hangul), the musk deer, the Tibetan antelope, the markhor (the wild goat), snow leopard, brown bear etc. The Jammu and Kashmir state too sustains a rich avifaunal assemblage and offers breeding ground to a large number of birds. However, due to heavy biotic pressure, the habitat of many wild animals and birds has been disturbed badly. Due to deforestation accompanied with climate change, large section of the society has great concern for the fast depleting rare species of wild animals and birds, which in turn have affected the biodiversity and genetic improvement.
The population of the hangul has been reduced to such an extent that World Life Fund has included this animal species in the red data book of endangered species. Not only this, the poachers and the timber thirsty people have ruthlessly harmed the habitat of snow leopard also due to which their number has been considerably reduced. At present, markhor appears to be an endangered species. During the course of a survey conducted, it is realized that higher reaches of Pir Panjal Himalayas are special habitat famous for this species and require special measures of its conservation. In Poonch and Rajouri districts, no serious efforts have been made for conservation of wild life in general and the markhor in particular whose number has been very much reduced. Similar is the situation of muskdeer, wild ass and wild yak.
Like other reaches of the state, the Siwaliks or Shivaliks, especially Kandi belt of Jammu, are now also devoid of a number of wild life species. About six decades ago, these hills had large number of wild life species like tiger (Cheetah), neeal gai, wild boar, monkeys as well as birds like peacock, peahen, crow, sparrows, quails and many other birds. However, these days these hills had very less number of animals and birds. The number of jackal, foxes and crows were so much reduced that these birds were placed in schedule 5th of the red data book and later on shifted to schedule 1st and hence are considered to be the endangered species of birds.
Wild quail, locally called batair or bataira was previously more in number, which now has declined considerably. It is a migratory and ground loving bird. About 50 years back, the vultures the hardiest of God’s creatures and have been called nature’s own disposal squad very much flourished in the Kandi belt of Jammu. This is further supported by the fact, that when the voices of such birds could be heard frequently by the villagers from the nearby Rakhs, their the then dwelling places. But now the population of vultures has become so low that now no such voices can be heard. If immediate preventive measures are not taken to protect them, they will vanish from Indian sky, in general and from Kandi belt in particular.
Factors Responsible for Wildlife Reduction:
The rapid growth of human population is compelling rapid development such as construction of roads, railway tracks, residential buildings, industrial complexes, tunnels, new projects, ploughing of lands for agriculture/horticulture are consuming large portion of forest cover. Trees are also felled for obtaining timber. Timber infact is such an item without which not construction work is complete. The process of deforestation, thus starts and there is so ruthless felling of trees that even the immature and very young trees are cut. As the demand from timber, fuel wood and fodder increases so the forests are cleared, and wild animals and birds are made homeless. The process of animal and bird migration begins and in this process many of them die on account of non-availability of suitable habitats. In the new environment, the animals and birds are further exposed to several risks to their lives in indiscriminate poaching.
The insectides used in agriculture and horticulture not only contaminate environment but also interfere with the body metabolism and accumulate poison in the body of the animals including birds and wild animals. The effect of insecticides on wild life involves a number of factors such as toxicity and persistence of added compound stability as it is transferred upto the food chain, type of vegetation in which it is applied and species of wild life.
Wild life diseases are another factor responsible for the extinction of wildlife species. Ticks take a heavy toll of animals by causing and transmitting serious ailments ultimately causing their deaths.
Besides habitat destruction hunting killing and poaching of the wild animals and birds, are the other main causes of their dwindling number.
The unprecedented floods brought about by the river Jhelum and the river Tawi due to heavy and continuous rains from 3rd to 8th September, 2014 has resorted devastating damage not only to human lives and livestock but also to the wild life. Among the wild life, the damage is considered to be ,more in case of flora and fauna of the wetlands especially of Dal and Wular lakes of Kashmir as well as others including springs/baulies. Infact, the torrential floods devastated everything in the catchment areas of these rivers, which came into their ways.
Methods for Preserving Wildlife
The concept of preserving the wildlife in India is not new but is as old as Indian civilization. Almost all religions have given credence to a non-violence “Ahimsa” and harmonious relationship based on love and kindness. If wildlife exploitation continues as mentioned under cause of wildlife depletion, we would just have a world without the buck, the deer, the elephant and even the small in conspicuous yet the beautiful insect creatures of the world. So, first place of wildlife preservation, is to stop poaching and haunting and then comes the development of more number of National Parks, wildlife sanctuaries, wildlife Reserves where threatened wildlife species could be preserved.
It becomes imperative to revive the rehabilitation of the deforested and eroded areas for conserving flora and fauna.
Overgrazing of the pastures should be totally stopped along with illicit cutting of the forests. By this act, the denudation caused by overgrazing and soil erosion/land sliding will be checked. This will ameliorate the habitat for staying the wild animals.
Creation of water holes for drinking water and raising plantation for the species on which herbivore animals feed.
Hunting, poaching and smuggling of various parts of animals be banned totally. Shooting should aslo be totally stopped.
As a step for controlling denudation of forests and soil erosion done by livestock of nomads, must be encouraged to settle and develop sheep breeding farms. This will check not only soil erosion but ecology of the forests and, thereby, the wild life will also be improved.
The laws pertaining to wild life conservation should be enforced strictly. Severe punishment should be imposed on all those who violate the wild life protection laws.

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