Iqbal Ahmad

The ever disappearing Kashmiri fauna

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While the world is suffering the onslaughts of global warming and other destructive environmental phenomenon and several species of animals and birds are at the verge of extinction, here in Kashmir, we too are witnessing strange environmental issues that might rob us of the variety of fauna that we traditionally have had. The environmentalist may be better informed but locals in Kashmir have been noticing a strange decrease in Eagle populations of this land. Most of the village people say that the eagle population has considerably decreased in the past few years. What can be the reason we do not know but there are visible signs of environmental degradation in this once ‘green valley’ buzzing with pure water streams and fresh water lakes.

People are of the opinion that from several years, there has been a gradual decrease in the number of eagles sited in here.  Since eagles used to be a resident bird of this glorious valley and we could see them flying in large flocks over  our fields, there absence is definitely noticeable. One can not say for sure as to what was causing the decrease in the number of eagles in Kashmir- maybe the environmental issues of the mobile towers or something else, or their migration for some reason, the presence of the bird has however got confined to only a few areas and only a few occasions.

My friend, Ab Rashid sheikh, a poultry farmer who  is a passionate bird watcher and has great love for pigeons and chicken seems to second my claim and states that he has been observing the gradual decrease in the number of eagles in Kashmir valley. “Earlier my chickens were often afraid of the eagles who found them as easy prey and would feed on them regularly, even in the broad day light. But for last several years, I am a bit relaxed because it is now rarely when we have to make noise to quell such attacks. But at the same time, it is a serious worry as well,” he says.

Some of the environmentalists and bird experts are of the opinion that like many other bird species, eagles too are endangered. They however do not know for sure as to what could be the causes for such a tragic trend and apart from the high levels of pollution and also the installation of signal towers, not much is really known about this phenomenon.

Eagle is believed to be a resident specie of the valley, which was found so commonly here and during the olden times five species of Kashmiri eagles were spotted nearly everywhere. These included the Fishing Eagle, Common Eagle, Steppe Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle and White Beaked Eagle. These days, as claim the people, this bird has lost its popularity in valley lands and it is only a few varieties of eagle that are rarely seen anywhere.

It is pretend mention here that in olden times not only eagle but its features were also very popular among Kashmiri writers. The Kashmiri writers used to write with eagle feather which was traditionally considered as a sign of good fortune.

Let’s not forget that like flora, fauna too needs preservation and efforts must be made to undertake studies to unearth the reasons behind such trends.

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