Man has been interested in wild animals since the dawn of civilization. All life on the earth is one and all living things are interlinked forming an ecosystem. Destruction of wildlife may result upset in ecological balance. Thus protection of every animal species is of great importance to quality of life and the survival of man himself.
Markhor (Capra falconeri) is a magnificent animal of considerable size with long horns which measure up to 150cms and a body weight of about 32- 110 kg. The horns are Spiraled and form a V-shaped figure. The animal grows a fine black beard under chin. The Ladakhi name for the animal is Rapho-Chhe or the great goat. It is also known as the king of goats. The Persian name Markhor which means snake eater is based on the belief of Dards, Baltis, and even kashmiris that Markhor actually eat snakes and after eating the snakes froths profusely on the rocks. The pottery e.g. Zaharmohar made from such rocks is believed to have medicinal properties besides being sensitive to poisonous substances. Markhor is a globally threatened wild animal found in India, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan. Markhor is the National animal of Pakistan. The international union for conservation of nature and Natural resources has classed Markhor as an endangered species and may face extinction in near future. In India Markhor is found in the snow bound higher reaches of Pir Panjal in Jammu and Kashmir. A survey conducted by wild life trust of India in 2006 had shown their number around 2000. However a survey conducted by Britishers in midforties had reported that the Pir Panjal belt right from Banihal up to Gulmarg and Yusmarg and Parts of Poonch had about 3000 Species of Markhor but there had been drastic reduction in their number within last six decades as the animal is under constant threat of poachers that kill the animal for skin, horn, meat and fur etc.
The Heerpur wildlife sanctuary falling in the Peer Panjal range is the habitat of several rare species including Markhor, Musk deer and brown bear. During initial stage survey for mughal road showed that it will cut 195 sq. km sanctuary in to two parts and the traffic flow is likely to disturb the habitat of rare species and operation of light as well as heavy vehicles through sanctuary route will affect movement of the species and thus the construction of Mughal road was opposed by Biodiversity Conservation Trust, a local NGO and also the state wildlife dept. They alleged that the construction of Mughal road passing through Heerpur Sanctuary and harbouring highly endangered Markhor will disturb the habitat of the wild animal in this sanctuary.
An amount of Rs 17 crores stands released in favour of the Govt. by National Highway Authority of India on the directions of Supreme Court to for recovery and habitat restoration of highly threatened species Markhor in the sanctuary. It includes fencing of the sanctuary, Plantation, soil conservation, Pasture and fodder development, watch towers etc? It will help a lot to save the animal from extinction. Besides this, public awareness is must.Awareness programmes should be launched through electronic and print media about the importance of wildlife.
Caution boards should be erected along the Mughal road particularly in Heerpur area with the slogans like ‘save wildlife, save human beings’ and ‘The threat to wildlife is a threat to mankind’ and so on. All forms of life are so closely interlinked that disturbance in one results in imbalance in others. So the need of the hour is to save wildlife at any cost if we want a balanced environment for our survival.