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Wildlife of Kashmir

The highest, youngest & largest chain of mountains in the world, the Himalayan range is one of the most fascinating and spectacular natrual wonders on earth.It is more than that : it is one of the richest store of animal life.For instance,it is remarkable that almost one third of the world’s mammalian species that may be called true mountain animals are native to these mountains.

Jammu and kasmir with its variety of geographical regions, climates and vegetation has many delights to offer the wildlife enthusiast. The splendidly plumaged kaleej pheasant. Opposite, Kashmir offers serence delights to the angler.Perphas no animal better epitomises the character and concerns of the mountain environment than the snow leopard, a beautiful and elusive survivor from the frigid Pleistocene era. Though its range is immense, extending over the entire

Himalayan range, it is most advantageously sought in jammu and kashmir especially in the high ranges. Another rare animal is the hangul or Kashmir stag,one of the most endangered species of red deer in the world.An enigmatic mammal is theMamrot bharal;the controversy over whether it is a shep or a goat is not yet settled.Many unique species of antelope,goat and sheep are found in the state.

In winter high-altitude bird species move to the lower valleys and into the tourist’s purview.Cinnamon sparrows,the black and yellow grosbeak,black bulbuls and monal pheasants(the male splendidly coloured) may be seen now.At this time,too large troops of the impressive Himalayan gray langur visit for the duration.

Found in the snow-bound, rocky terrain above the tree line, the swift-footed Tibetan woolly hare is a principal prey secies of high-mountain predators such as the Iynx and the snow leopard.But nothing strikes the eye and imagination so much as in spring and summer,when the long foothills and deep valleys awake to life.Now also awakes the imposing Himalayan black bear and as the winter avifauna return to higher quarters the birds of the summer return.Among these is the lovely golden oriole.The langurs and hangful,too make thier way to higher valleys that are not however inaccessible.

Though wildlife conservation in Ladakh began fairly recently,there is much here that is not found in the lower ranges.Ladakh’s ecosystem,lying at the confluence of three zoogeographic zones, is fascinating and uniquely varied.A dozen important mammals and over 100 species of birds make their home in this rugged terain most of them,though endangered or rare.

The wild yak is native only to this area. Other animals include the ibex, blue sheep, bharal, docile marmot and mouse hare.The snow leopard roams here too;so does the wild horse and the rare musk deer inhabits lower altitudes.Unfortunately some species are still outside the tourist’s domain.

Jammu and the Kashmir valley, however have led wildlife conservation efforts.Several National Parks and Sanctuaries have been established in the state

Nature impressions of Dal Lake

White Breasted KingfisherDal Lake much visited and less understood provides us with classic example of how little we appreciate the good things provided to us by Nature. This once pure lake could turn into a polluted pond , if we unthinkingly allow soil erosion and untreated effluents to damage it. Thousands of residents of Srinagar and millions of tourists are depandent upon the lake either for livelihood or for enjoyment. The lake of course is popular for its Houseboats ,Shikaras and promenades and it is undoubtedly a bird watchers paradise..

Slowly as the Shikara passes through the channels in Srinagar the houseboats pass by which are handled by even the children with great dexterity. The birds in this lake are very approachable. The kingfishers sit on the tops of houseboats nonchalantly almost within the touching distance of humans who seem to be equally unmindful of the birds. The kingfishers apparently use walls, steps and piles as fixed perches from which they directly dive into water to catch little fish.In Europe these birds are very elusive but in the happy valley of Kashmir they fear no danger from humans. Man and Nature seem to exist happly together in the Valley. Sitting on low boats i.e. Shikaras we can manoeuvre close to waders,raptors and divers.

KingfishersWhile giding on Shikara we can often observe white breastedKingfishers(Halycon smyrnensis), large striking birds with robust bills perched on the branches of willow trees. These birds concentrate their efforts to hunting on the floating Gardens. These man made islands comprise of reeds, willow rods, aquatic vegetations and and held together with humus consisting of mud from the lake bottom. This is extremely fertile and provide rich source of food in the form of frogs,lizards,mice, grasshoppers and other insects to the Kingfisher.

Common KingfisherNow as we move further to the calm waters of Anchar Lake we are in a totally different world, there is no crowd of boats, no motor boat engines to be heard and the mood is different altogether. Just a few meters ahead there is a little bitternunmindful of the boat traffics. It stands motionless in the reeds waiting for frogs and other insects for its feed like a heron. This is a very shy bird and will vanish at the slightest difference. However it is accustomed to moving water traffic and is not bothered by it. However if a boats stops it gets alarmed.

A Little BitternThere are open lotus flowers around which the bees are humming collecting honey. Wagtails active and eager can be seen dashing from leaf to leaf sometimes leaping into air to catch that elusive creature for its morsel. The dipping motion of their longtails and their undulating flight is fascinating to watch. Kingfishers keep on diving into the lake and emerge successful sometimes dripping with droplets with litlle fish intheir beak.

A small swimming bird much smaller than a duck is also seen and is known as grebe(podipus ruficollis). It dips at one place and emerges some meters away. The little grebe is fairly common in the vale.

Common Pariah Kites (Milvus Migrans) are frequently seen soaring above the area. Near the Dal they perch on pillars looking for dead fish and other rubbish. They arePied Kingfisherscavenger birds and help clean the area.

It is not necessary to have any special knowledge or equipment to enjoy birdwatching in and around the Dal Lake. An ordinary ride on a Shikara can provide an obervant mind with wonderful insights into the bird behaviour. All that is needed is love of nature, keen-eye lots of patience and appreciation
 

Dachigam

DACHIGAM is a wildlife sanctuary which is home to the endangered HANGUL species of the Deer in the country. dachigam is also host to other wildlife of the state viz Black/ Brown Bear, Musk Deer, leopards and migratory birds. There is a Trout fish farm also in Dachigam. It is big natural reserve which requires permissions from the Wildlife Authorities for excploration. The dense forests of Dachigam offer a brilliant view alongwith a Glacier fed rivulet flowing right through the middle.

General Information

Approach: Airport Srinagar (32 kms.)
  Railhead Jammu (315 kms.)
  Road Srinagar (21 kms.)
Area : 141 sq. kms.
Altitudinal Range : 1,700 to 4,000 metres M.S.L.
Accommodation : Lower Dachigam: 
Panzgam 2 inspection huts 3 bedrooms = 6 beds. 
Laribal 1 inspection hut 1 bedroom = 2 beds. 
Laribal 2 dormitories 3 bedrooms = 20 beds.
  Upper Dachigam: 
Sangargulu 1 inspection hut 2 bedrooms = 4 beds. 
Gratnar 1 inspection hut 6 bedrooms = 12 beds.
Flora : Longtailed MarmotThere are over fifty species of trees,twenty of shrubs and five hundred species of herbs. The principal tree species are Pinus griffithii,Abies pindrow,Juglans regia,Morus alba,Betula utilis,Salix spp.,Populus spp., Prunus armeniaca, Corylus colurna,Quercus robur,Ulmus wallichiana, Aesculus indica, etc.Shrubs include Berberis spp.,Desmodium tiliaefolium,Parrotiopsis jacquemontiana, Indigofera heterantha etc.
Fauna : There are twenty mammal species which include hangul,Himalayan brown bear,Himalayan black bear, langur,Himalayan marmot,leopard etc.
Avifauna : There are over 150 species of birds.The principal species are monal,koklas,bearded vulture, griffon vulture,golden eagle,grey heron,starling,golden oriole,paradise flycatcher,western yellow-billed blue magpie,kestrel,peregrine falcon,black bulbul, etc.
Visit : Upper Dachigam Mammal/Bird viewing 
Lower Dachigam Mammal viewing
Bird viewing
May to August. 
September to March. 
March to May.
Dress : Summer : Trekking shoes,raincoat and light clothing. 
Winter : Trekking shoes,heavy woolens and waterproof windcheater. 
Spring : Trekking shoes,raincoat and light woollens.

For Reservations contact :

The Chief Wildlife Warden, 
Jammu & Kashmir State, 
Tourist Reception Centre, 
Srinagar 190001, (Kashmir.)

StagDachigam lies in Srinagar District and it is 20 Kms from the Distt Headquarters.The nearest Airport is approx. 25 Kms away in Badgam Distt.This Airport is connected with major cities of country. The nearest Rail Head is at Jammu which is 300 Kms away and from there National Highway NH1A connects the Kashmir valley with India. Every sort of transport to suit every budget from Buses to Taxis ply on this Highway. It Takes around 10 to 12 hours to cross this mountaineous road which crosses some beautiful spots and the famous Jawahar Tunnel linking Kashmir Valley with country. Selected Transport is available from anywhere in the Srinagar City with nominal costs to the Gates of sanctuary. From there on you have to trudge on foot.Taxis, Buses can be chartered from anywhere in the Srinagar city to this place.

Where to stay ?

The Boulevard road is lined with Hotels and Restaurants suiting every budget. the accomodation is available for every budget. Hotels are also available on the other major commercial areas of Srinagar.more information on tarrifs the Manager and Tourist reception centre can be contacted at Srinagar.Information bookings and reservations can also be had from the Offices of JKTDC across the country from the location nearest o you.

What to do ?

Lots of recreational activities are on the offer :

  • Explore the Wildlife in the natural reserve.
  • Talking long walks/Trekking in the wildlife park.
  • Carry your own refreshments as nothing is available commercially.
  • Angling can be allowed only after seeking prior licenses and permissions.
Overa Wildlife Sanctuary

The Sanctuary is situated about 76 kms.from Srinagar in the south-east and located near Pahalgam.The area is home to a number of rare,threatend and protected species of birds and mammals.It sustains 13 species of mammals and over 80 species of birds.It has acquired an outstanding position for its varied and magnificent species of pheasants.

General Information

Approach: Airport Srinagar (87 kms.)
  Railhead Jammu (280 kms.)
  Road Srinagar (76 kms.) 
Anantnagh (40 kms.)
Pahalgam (11 kms.)
Area : 32.27 sq.kms.
Accommodation : 1 inspection hut……… 2 bedrooms = 4 beds.
Flora : The Overa Willife Sanctuary is richly covered with a variety of floral complexes which comprise mainly of conifers; the principal species being Pinus griffithii,Abies pindrow,aesculus indica,Morus alba, Juglans regia, etc.Major shrub associates are Indigofera heterantha, Desmodium tiliaefolium, Isdon spp., etc, while the main ground layer is dominated by dicotlydonous herbs comprising of Taraxacum officinale, Artemisia vulgaris, Anemone spp., Primula spp., etc.
Fauna : This area houses a variety of mammals most of which are faced with the serious threat of extinction.They are the hangul, musk deer,serow, rhesus macaque, langur, leopard, leopard cat, etc.
Avifauna : The area as distinct from the other wildlife reserves of the valley holds a rich assemblage of pheasants like the chukar, koklas, monal and Himalayan snow cock.Other avifauna include the jungle crow, red billed chough, griffon vulture, bearded vulture, Himalayan whistling thrush, rufous-backed shrike, Indian mynah, etc.
Visit : Mammal viewing 
Bird viewing
September to April
March to August
Dress : Summer/Spring : Trekking shoes,raincoat and light clothing. 
Winter : Trekking shoes, Heavy woolens and windcheater.
Gulmarg Biosphere Reserve

The area is located located at a distance of 48 kms. from Srinagar to its south-west.It is famous for retaining several rare and endangered  species like the  musk deer, and a rich and varied avifauna.

General Information :

Approach: Airport Srinagar (57 kms.)
  Railhead Jammu (342 kms.)
  Road Srinagar (48 kms.)
Area : 180 sq.kms.
Altitudinal Range : 2400 to 4300 above M.S.L.
Accommodation : Tourist and private accommodation readily available. Camping site available.
Flora : The area holds a rich cover of vegetation, the dominant forest consisting of conifers which account for over 90%. The principal species are Cedrus deodara, Pinus griffithii, Abies pindrow, Aesculus indica etc. The major shrubs are Indigofera heterantha, Viburnum spp., Sorbaria tomentosa etc. the ground cover is very rich and dicotyledonus herbs dominate, comprising of Rumex patientia, Primula spp., anemone spp., etc.
Fauna : Nature has gifted this Biosphere Reserve with multiple species of rare, endangered and protected species. The main species are hangul, musk deer, serow, brown bear, Leopard, black bear and red fox etc.
Avifauna : The area houses a good population of pheasants and upland birds apart from other species, both resident and migratory. The common birds are griffon vulture, monal, snow cock, koklas, blue rock pigeon, Kashmir roller, European hoopoe, jungle crow etc.
Visit : Mammal viewing 
Bird viewing
September to March (in lower areas) 
March to May (in lower areas)
Dress : Summer/Spring : Trekking shoes,raincoat and light clothing. 
Winter : Trekking shoes, Heavy woolens and windcheater.
Overa- Aru Biosphere Reserve

The area is located located at a distance of 76 kms. from Srinagar to its south-east.It is famous for retaining several rare and endangered species like the hangul, musk deer, brown bear, leopard, koklas, monal and snow cock.

General Information :

Approach: Airport Srinagar (87 kms.)
  Railhead Jammu (280 kms.)
  Road Srinagar (76 kms.) 
Anantnagh (40 kms.)
Area : 400 sq.kms.
Altitudinal Range : 3,050 to 5,425 above M.S.L.
Accommodation : 1 inspection hut …….. 2 bedrooms = 4 beds. 
Tourist and private accommodation readily available at Pahalgam.
Camping site available.
Flora : The area holds a rich cover of vegetation, the dominant forest consisting of conifers which account for over 90%. The principal species are Cedrus deodara, Pinus griffithii, Abies pindrow, Aesculus indica etc. The major shrubs are Indigofera heterantha, Viburnum spp., Sorbaria tomentosa etc. the ground cover is very rich and dicotyledonus herbs dominate, comprising of Rumex patientia, Primula spp., anemone spp., etc.
Fauna : Nature has gifted this Biosphere Reserve with multiple species of rare, endangered and protected species. The main species are hangul, musk deer, serow, brown bear, Leopard, rhesus macaque, grey langur, Himalayan mouse hare, etc.
Avifauna : The area houses a good population of pheasants and upland birds apart from other species, both resident and migratory. The common birds are griffon vulture, monal, snow cock, koklas, blue rock pigeon, Kashmir roller, European hoopoe, jungle crow etc.
Visit : Mammal viewing 
Bird viewing 
Mammal/Bird viewing
September to March (in lower areas) 
March to May (in lower areas)
May to August (in upper areas.)
Dress : Summer/Spring : Trekking shoes, raincoat and light clothing. 
Winter : Trekking shoes, Heavy woolens and waterproof windcheater.

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