Kashmir Stag. also popularly known as Hangul, is the only surviving sub-species of the Red Deer family in Europe in Indian Subcontinent. Once found in high altitude regions of Northern India and Pakistan, the Kashmir Stag is now confined to only Dachigam National Park in Kashmir. It has been considered as one of rarest mammal int he subcontinent since 1950s.
The Scientific Name: Cervus elaphus hanglu
Where is it found?
Hangul or the Kashmir Stag was once available in large number in the Kashmir valley across present day India and Pakistan. The initial surveys done in before 1950s revealed the Hangul population to be more than 5000. But a shocking survey published by E. P. Gee in 1957 revealed that only 400 specimens of the Kashmir Stag is surviving in the region. The species immediately got attention and considered as one of the rarest mammal in Indian subcontinent. Despite various efforts, the Hangul population still stands at alarming 220 according to 2011 survey. The current political imbalance of Kashmir, overgrazing of cattle into Hangul’s territory, loss of habitat are attributed for the Endangered status of the animal. It is currently confined to only Dachigam National Park located on foothills of Zabarwan range of Kashmir.
The Hangul prefers dense riverine forests, high valleys, and mountains of the Kashmir valley as their habitat. Dachigam National Park has been serving refuge for last 50 years now. Their territory is very limited now, no new territory available to expand.
How does it live?
Hangul is a social animal and found in group of 2 to 18. Their society is matriarchal. The rutting season for the Hangul is in autumn, from mid September to mid October. They come down to the Lower Dachigam region during this time and stay there for the winter season and till the calves are born. The arrival of the rutting season is heralded by the loud roar of the male stag in challenge to any other stag and establishment of its territory with its harem of hinds. These stags desert the hinds at the end of the rutting season and the calves are born in Spring, late May or early June. The calves reach maturity at the age of three years. The herd migrates to the higher Dachigam region with the coming summer season. The main diet for Kashmir stag consists of leaves, twigs and grasses. The deer can live upto 15-18 years.
How does it look?
The Kashmir Stag is a very handsome member of the Red deer species. It has a light rump patch without including the tail. Hanguls coat color is brown with a speckling to the hairs. The inner sides of the buttocks are grayish white, followed by a line on the inner sides of the thighs and black on the upper side of the tail. Each antler consists of five tines. The beam is strongly curved inward, while the brow and bez tines are usually close together and above the burr.
The Hangul can grow upto 120-140 cm in height to the shoulder and weigh upto 150-180 kg (330-400 lb).