<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jammu and Kashmir’s wildlife authorities are facing a unique conundrum as the ideal pair of Hangul needed for the state’s ambitious captive breeding programme — to help boost the animal’s declining numbers — remains elusive.Hangul is the state animal of J&K. Found in the forest ridges of Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary, the Kashmir stag is known for its majestic antlers and red coat.Alarmed by the continuous decline in numbers — 186 at last count in 2015 — the state government set up a Conservation Breeding Centre at Shikargah Tral in South Kashmir in a bid to increase the native elk population and prevent its extinction.However, officials have so far been unsuccessful in luring in a pair, preferably fawns, for the ambitious captive breeding programme.”We are trying to get an expert to capture the hangul. An artificial water point and feeding centre to lure in the animals have been set up,” said Ifshan Dewan, Wildlife Warden, Shopian.Wildlife authorities are trying to create a parent stock for the species recovery programme. “We are looking for fawns for creating a parent stock. A full-grown hangul may struggle and die. Fawns can cope better,” said Rashid Naqash, Regional Wildlife Warden, Kashmir.About the programme”Efforts to provide a minimum parent stock to initiate the breeding programme are underway. Tral Shikargah, which is a relic habitat of the stag, has been identified for ex-situ conservation,” said Chaudhary Lal Singh, J&K minister for forests and environment, in a written reply in the Legislative Assembly.The state government has earmarked five hectares for the captive breeding centre. The facility is almost complete, and features night shelter sheds, pen-houses, a paddock and veterinary facilities, authorities said.Meanwhile, “Strict check on tourist flow and vehicular movement is being enforced. Periodic census of hangul population is also conducted by experts from reputed institutes of the country. Grazing is restricted to upper areas of Dachigam. Efforts to relocate the sheep breeding farm from Dachigam is also under process,” said the forest minister.

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Wanted: A Hangul couple for breeding programme