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As State’s animal Hangul’s population has drastically dwindled from 5000 to 186 species, the Jammu and Kashmir government has ordered immediate shifting of Sheep breeding farm from eco-fragile Dachigam National farm to save Hangul for extinction.

Sources informed Greater Kashmir that the decision to shift Sheep Breeding farm from Dachigam National park was taken during a high-level meeting chaired by the Chief Secretary, B. R Sharma which was attended by the commissioner secretaries of both Animal and Sheep Husbandry and Forest Department.

“Directions have been passed to the Sheep Husbandry department to shift the farm and find alternate location for it,” said a senior Wildlife Department official who was part of the meeting.

He informed that the government was apprehensive that if the sheep breeding farm continues to be stationed there, it would become the cause of extinction of Hangul in Kashmir.

“Besides the various experts have opined that shifting of farm is must for saving Hangul from extinction as sheep can be reared at any place outside the only natural habitat of Hangul,” he said adding “There is lot of disturbance to the Hangul during rutting period in Oak patch that is largely occupied by Sheep Breeding Farm. Dogs in the Farm also pose great threat to the new born hangul fawns in the area. As a result the Fawn female ratio and the female male ratios have also gone down according to one study,” he adds.

As per latest 2015 census conducted by State government population of Kashmir Stag has declined to only 186 from 5000 species.

Hangul or the Kashmir Stag (Cervus Canadensis Hanglu) is the state animal of Jammu and Kashmir. Established in 1961, the Sheep Breeding and Research Farm is spread over 1500 kanals in the park. The shifting of the farm from Dachigam National Park has been a bone of contention between Wildlife department and Sheep Husbandry department for the past few decades.

The Wildlife department presumes that interference of sheep in habitat of endangered Hangul or Kashmir stag is responsible for its declining population. However, the Sheep Husbandry department has been refuting the theory blaming the Wildlife department for failing to take scientific measures for Hangul conservation.

Dachigam National Park is the last abode of critically endangered Hangul which is known for its magnificent antlers with 11 to 16 points, and is the only surviving race of the Red Deer family of Europe in the sub-continent.

Though in 2005 the state cabinet had approved shifting of the farm, it continued to operate as successive regimes failed to fulfill a criterion of finding alternative place for its relocation.

The Minister for Animal Husbandry, Abdul Gani Kohli said, “Sheep husbandry department will do what is in the best interest for the State.”

Confirming the Development, Commissioner Secretary, Sheep Husbandry, R K Bhagat told Greater Kashmir that although shifting of sheep farm from Dachigam is a huge loss for the department as there is lesser allocation from government to Sheep Husbandry. “But we are finding alternative place as per the directions of the government.”

The Director Sheep Husbandry, Kashmir, Kranti Kumar Sharma said, “It has been decided to shift the farm to alternative place in the meeting chaired by Chief Secretary. Expert committee has been constituted which is work on to find out suitable locations for shifting the farm.”