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An educational trip to Dachigam National Park

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It was a blessed mix of respect, love and friendship with each other and also with the life at the Dachigam National Park.

By: Farhana Manzoor

On 25th June 2022, our batch happened to visit the Dachigam National Park, as part of a field work of Wildlife Sciences course. Our course instructor- Dr. Khursheed accompanied us to this protected area that is a home to the last viable population of the threatened species-Hangul.

The sunny weather was resonating well with our excitement and energy. We reached the destination at around 11.30 am and the day’s activity began with exploring the captivated animals- Leopard, Black Bear (Rosy and Julie) and Brown Bear- a newly rehabilitated one showing up in its meek behaviour! Thereafter we paced up with our guides towards the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre. Along the way, the flora welcomed and impressed us- wild cherries, plums, berries all were the emoticons of our craving to know more. Moreover, Morus, Juglans, Aesculus, Quercus, few Platanus, numerous Climbers and so on, knitted a beautiful and unquestionable ecosystem of biodiversity.

Porcupine quills on roads, Langurs and Macaques across the canopy, the musical chirping of Warblers, the soothing micro climate, the fruity visuals and what not. It seemed as if nature was on an exhibition and we were the blessed spectators.

Walking for 1-2 kilometers, we halted and were offered Kehwa while we have a glimpse of documentaries and pictorial details, the life at Dachigam National Park. Here, after a short interaction session with Dr. Khursheed, we continued for the English Oak Patch- the nest of Hangul.

The camera trapping, the Salt Licks, the foreign Oaks, the tiny Acorns- which later become the feast of bears, all were wonderful. A brief lecture about the habitat and behaviour of the reputed Kashmiri Red Deer was delivered by our teacher. Following this, we started a brisk trek  upto an altitude of 1900 m elevation, real close to the tree line. And lo! another treat for the eyes and the soul- after walking up the slope, through very dense undergrowth with a breathing rate that is not usual for us and sweat rolling and trickling down faces amidst thirst, when you turn around to see the valleys below , all green, you tend to forget your soar legs and dried up throats. It couldn’t get any better.

Hushed discussions started here as well and finally after observing the binocular view of the surroundings, our trip of the day came to an end. “Exhaustedly relaxed”, we started descending the trail. But with an air of excitement still in our nerves, we didn’t let go of the sight of the Rainbow Trout Farm- yet another example of benefit of management and lookafter , on part of humans.

The trip was jaw dropping. The presence of Dr. Khursheed and other wildlife scholars beautified it even further. It was a blessed mix of respect, love and friendship amongst us as well as with the life at the Dachigam National Park.

(Write is pursuing BSc. Forestry at Faculty of Forestry SKUAST-K. She can be reached at [email protected] ).




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