OVERA WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
|Pahalgam zoo park attracts tourists, locals|
|(Courtesy GreaterKashmir.com) Pahalgam, Aug 3, 2005: Beelines of local people and tourists from other parts of the world point toward the growing popularity of newly coming up Mini Zoo Park, a natural enclosure for wild animals inside a vast sanctuary in Pahalgam, the world famous tourist spot.
Wild animals like Spotted Deer, Hangul, Black Bear and two Leopard cubs are the main attraction in the Park. Wildlife employees have a difficult time in controlling the crowds from coming too close to the animals.
The park has come up on about 400 Kanals of land and forms the part of Wildlife Sanctuary spread over 32.27 square kilometers. The enclosures have been constructed on the modern lines with fencing that is provided with electrified sensors to prevent the animal from moving out. The wildlife employees informed that separate enclosures for different species of wild animals would be constructed in future.
Many species of wild animals kept here for public gaze have been captured by the officials of wildlife department during the last winter in residential areas of the valley and some have been brought from outside the state.
Among the captured wild animals are two Musk Deer (male and female), one Black Bear, two Leopard cubs and two Hanguls. Those imported from outside the state include Spotted Dear (five males and two females) and one Shapoo (wild goat).
'The Hanguls which you see here were captured near power canal in Ganderbal in extremely injured condition. The injuries were such that they couldn't stand on their legs. After treatment they are quite well now. Two Leopard cubs brought here are also given due care', says an employee on watch and ward.
The Park also acts as rehabilitation-cum-rescue centre also. 'We treat the injured wild animals brought here and once they recover they would be released back in the forests. The park will also act as a breeding centre in future,' said an employee.
'It is a life time experience for me to sight a bear and that too in wild. I have seen it on television on Discovery channel but to be some feet away from a living bear is really thrilling', exclaimed Rabia Ishrat, a student who came here on school excursion.
Basharat Hussain, a local tourist said, 'To set up mini zoo is a right step unlike Amusement Park by the J&K bank, which is just like a dagger in the heart of Pahalgam.'
Overa Wildlife Sanctuary is supposed to be located 76-km from Srinagar , near Pahalgam, and has an area of 32.27-sq-kms (the reality is that this Wildlife Sanctuary is not much known - even to regular travelers and native people of Pahalgam. Perhaps this is some area of the wild that has been designated as a Wildlife Sanctuary by some authority, and only a few sources have any information on this).
The area is home to a number of rare, threatened and protected species of birds and mammals. It sustains 13 species of mammals and over 80 species of birds. The sanctuary has acquired an outstanding position for its varied and magnificent species of pheasants.
Regular buses ply from Pahalgam (11-km). For overnight stay there is a two-bedroom hut as well as a 10-bedded dormitory.
The Overa Wildlife 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, etc, while the main ground layer is dominated by Dicotlydonous herbs comprising of Taraxacum Officinale, Artemisia Vulgaris, etc.
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.
The sanctuary 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 avifaunas include the jungle Crow, red billed Chough, griffon Vulture, bearded Vulture, Himalayan Whistling Thrush, Rufous-backed Shrike, Indian Mynah, etc.
www.pahalgam.com would try to find more information on this Wildlife Sanctuary. Visitors to Pahalgam are also encouraged to probe local people and contact the Office of the Chief Wildlife Warden, Tourist Reception Centre, Srinagar on this, and get some more information, and possibly share it with readers at www.pahalgam.com.
Red Deer breeding centre proposed in the hill resorts of Pahalgam and Gulmarg
Apr 12, 2006 Kashmir's wildlife authorities will employ satellite-technology to protect the endangered hangul or red deer. Initially 10 animals in forests near Dachigam will be fitted with the Global Positioning System collars. This will enable authorities track the deer, whose terrain ranges over dense forests and mountains, regions otherwise difficult to monitor.
A breeding centre has also been proposed in the hill resorts of Pahalgam and Gulmarg in order to ensure the recovery of the hangul. A 16-year separatist revolt and anarchy made the region easily accessible to poachers, who kill the deer for both their meat and highly-prized antlers. Their numbers have reached a mere 150.