|Subspecies:||C. e. hanglu|
The Kashmir stag (Cervus elaphus hanglu), also called hangul, is a subspecies of red deer native to India. It is found in dense riverine forests in the high valleys and mountains of the Kashmir Valley and northern Chamba district in Himachal Pradesh. In Kashmir, it's found in the Dachigam National Park where it receives protection but elsewhere it is more at risk. In the 1940s, the population was between 3000 and 5000 individuals, but since then habitat destruction, over-grazing by domestic livestock and poaching have greatly reduced that dramatically. The Kashmir stag is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as the population had been reduced to 160 mature individuals in the 2008 census.
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 greyish 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
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
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.
- Rare Kashmiri deer on verge of extinction, 12 May, 2008, REUTERS; The Economic Times, Times of India
- Endangered Hangul spotted in many parts of Kashmir, 5 May 2008, PTI, Times of India
- Wildlife institute wants larger area for Hangul deer, April 09, 2008, Aditya V Singh, The Indian Express
- Deer Specialist Group 1996. Cervus elaphus ssp. hanglu. In: IUCN 2007. 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 19 May 2008. IUCN Red List status of Endangered is outdated, Kashmir Stag is a Critically Endangered as numbers have fallen to below 200 individuals as of 2008.