Wildlife Trust of India through a Rapid Action Project provided 85 pairs of high altitude boots in November to the patrolling staff of Dachigam National Park to equip them for the winter and snow.
Dachigam National park is located 22 km from Srinagar in the northernmost Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). Covering an area of 141 sq. km, the park had initially been protected since 1910 by the royal family of J&K and later under Indian law by declaration as a national park in 1981. Dachigam literally means ‘ten villages’ in memory of the ten villages that were relocated for its formation.
Located among the high mountains of the mighty western Himalayas, the variation in altitude is vast, ranging from 5500 ft to 14000 ft above mean sea level. The terrain ranges from gently sloping grasslands to sharp rocky outcrops and cliffs. The park has alpine pastures, meadows, waterfalls and scrub vegetation with deep gullies running down the mountain face and most of the grasslands and meadows, except during winters, are covered with brightly coloured flowers. The park is famous for being home to the endangered Hangul (Cervus elaphus hanglu) - the Kashmir stag that is the state animal of which only about 200 remain within Dachigam National Park, as per a survey undertaken by WTI and the J&K Department of Wildlife.
This beautiful park is protected by a dedicated band of forest staff who patrol the park on foot every day in every season keeping a watch for poachers, illegal graziers, and forest fires. Grasslands being the most vulnerable to forest fires, fire lines of more than 10 km in length and 15 feet in width are being prepared and will be maintained throughout the year.
The patrolling party, constituting the Block Officers, Beat Guards and seasonal manual labour, plays a key role in the early detection of these fires and most of the time is able to check them with minimum damage to wildlife. The tough mountain boots provided were very well received by the staff who said that it would greatly ease the discomfort associated with hiking across rocky mountain terrain.
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