Kashmir stag (hangul) Cervus canadensis hanglu : The hangul, a subspecies of the red deer, is found exclusively in and around Jammu and Kashmir’s 141 sq. km. Dachigam National Park. Perhaps under 200 individuals remain in these forests. In the breeding season, stags sport impressive, branched antlers and their calls reverberate across hill ranges, advertising their availability to hinds. In Lower Dachigam, the hangul build fat reserves through summer, gorging on palatable vegetation, acorns, dropped walnuts and more. These fat reserves help the deer to survive the cold winters, when food is restricted to tree barks and other tough plant materials. Climate change poses a serious threat to a species already facing extinction from the ‘normal’ trials of life, which in recent years has included habitat destruction, overgrazing by livestock and pollution.
Status: Critically Endangered
Photo: Pranay Chandra