Kullu, October 4
The Forest Department will conduct a census of musk deer, blue sheep and brown bear at the Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) in Kullu this month.
GHNP Divisional Forest Officer Nishant Mandotra said the counting of these rare species of wild animals in the park would be started after Dasehra from the second week of October. The officer said about 15 to 20 teams would be formed to undertake the census. Assistance would be taken from volunteers along with staff of the Forest Department. The data on these wild animals would be revealed by the end of October.
“High-altitude areas are the habitat of these three wild animals. Blue sheep is present at about 3,500 m, musk deer at 3,000 m and brown bear is found at an altitude of about 2,500 to 2,800 m above sea level,” Mandotra said.
He said different parameters had been kept for determining the population of these species. Musk deer will be counted through the silent drive method by observing them from around their habitat, while brown bear and blue sheep would be counted by scanning method with binoculars or other equipment.
Although the park management has carried out the exercise of counting rare species from time to time, there still isn’t any concrete data on the presence of these wild animals in the park.
About 10 to 12 musk deer habitats were found in the park, where the average number density was two per km, about two decades ago. Their density had increased to 10 to 11 per km in 2019. The present figure of musk deer would be disclosed after the census.
The park has assisted in growth of these rare species along with the conservation of biodiversity. It is illegal to hunt any wild animal, including musk deer, in the park. About 35 trap cameras have been installed by the park management at sensitive places to keep an eye on poaching. The census of rare species of birds in the park was also carried out in April and May.
The GHNP was constituted in 1984 and formally declared a National Park in 1999 to protect its diverse components of flora and fauna. The United Nation Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation had given it the status of World Heritage Site (WHS) in 2014.
It is the only viable protected area of 1,171 sq km, including 265 sq km of ecozone, in the world which has unique Himalayan biological diversity and protected endangered and threatened wildlife species. The process of increasing its area to 3,120 sq km is also underway.
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