Kashmir stag

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Kashmir Stag
Cervus cashmeerianus Smit.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Suborder: Ruminantia
Family: Cervidae
Subfamily: Cervinae
Genus: Cervus
Species: C. canadensis
Subspecies: C. c. hanglu

The Kashmir stag (Cervus canadensis hanglu), also called hangul, is a subspecies of wapiti native to India, especially in Jammu and Kashmir where it is the state animal. Kashmir Stag is listed as critically endangered by IUCN as population is counted 160 mature individuals in the 2008 census.

Description[edit]

This deer has a light rump patch without including the tail. Its coat color is brown with a speckling to the hairs. The inner sides of the buttocks are grayish white, followed by a line on the inner sides of the thighs and black on the upper side of the tail. Each antler consists of five tines. The beam is strongly curved inward, while the brow and bez tines are usually close together and above the burr.

Distribution and ecology[edit]

This deer lives in groups of two to 18 individuals in dense riverine forests, high valleys, and mountains of the Kashmir valley and northern Chamba in Himachal Pradesh. In Kashmir, it's found in the Dachigam National Park (at elevations of 3,035 meters), Rajparian Wildlife Sanctuary, Overa Aru, Sind Valley, and in the forests of Kishtwar & Bhaderwah.

Threats and conservation[edit]

These deer once numbered from about 5,000 animals in the beginning of the 20th century. Unfortunately, they were threatened, due to habitat destruction, over-grazing by domestic livestock, and poaching. This dwindled to as low as 150 animals by 1970. However, the state of Jammu & Kashmir, along with the IUCN and the WWF prepared a project for the protection of these animals. It became known as Project Hangul. This brought great results and the population increased to over 340 by 1980.

Much of the earlier published material was by the distinguished E. P. Gee, a member of the Bombay Natural History Society. Shortly before the expedition was mounted, Fiona Guinness and Tim Clutton-Brock, both noted deer experts, had visited Kashmir and had gathered some useful field data, which confirmed that Hangul numbers were at a dangerously low level.

The animal is battling for its survival in its last bastion: they are now scattered within 141 km² of the Dachigam National Park located on foothills of Zabarwan range on the outskirts of Srinagar. Known for its magnificent antlers with 11 to 16 points, hangul was once distributed widely in the mountains of Kashmir. During the 1940s, their number was believed to be about 3,000-5,000. As per the latest census in 2008, only around 160 exist. There are plans to breed them in captivity to increase their chances of survival.[1]

References[edit]

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