India Hopes to Save Rare Kashmir Red Deer


War takes a terrible toll on people, the environment, and an area's wildlife. In Indian Kashmir, conservationists are hoping to save the rare red deer known locally as the hangul. Numbering at nearly 1,000 animals less than 30 years ago, just 200 Kashmir hangul remain, the victims of poaching and the inability of government officials to protect the species while their homeland was in the middle of a separatist rebellion.

Now, with violence in Kashmir on the decline (but far from over), area officials and conservationists hope to protect the red deer by setting up two breeding centers and tracking some of the remaining deer through satellite-tracking GPS collars. They have an incentive to succeed: "Hangul is very important for Kashmir, without Hangul Kashmir is incomplete," wildlife warden Farooq Geelani told Reuters.

On an interesting side note, some say that many of Kashmir's wildlife species have actually benefited from the insurgency, because India required all citizens to turn in their guns, and because people were too scared of ongoing violence to venture into the woods. This BBC article provides details on many of Kashmir's endangered species.

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