The wildlife sanctuaries in Jammu and Kashmir are noted for being located at high altitudes and harbouring an incredible variety of wildlife. Some of the animals found in these sanctuaries are exclusive to the region, and that is what enhances their appeals mostly. This is an overview on the wildlife in the state and the best places to explore it.
At Dachigam National Park, it is a privilege to spot the Hangul, or the Kashmiri stag. Not only is it endangered, but it is also the only species of red deer to be found in India. Situated about 22km from Srinagar, its landscape is marked by rocky outcrops, steep wooded slopes, deep valleys and alpine pastures. Other animals which are regularly spotted here include brown bear, musk deer, jungle cats, leopards and Himalayan black bear. Rare birds like cinnamon sparrows, black bulbuls, himalayan monals, colourful pheasants and kashmir flycatcher also bring alive the park with their presence. Look upwards, and your eyes may catch the sights of birds like bearded vulture and golden eagle soaring in the sky.
Gulmarg Biosphere Reserve, located about 48 km from Srinagar, is famous for preserving and nurturing rare and endangered species of animals and plants. This is what makes a visit to it so special. It is also famous for its dense vegetation, of which conifers are a large part. There are rare and endangered wildlife species inside the reserve, with the most popular among them being brown bear, black bear, serow, musk deer and hangul. The park also houses a rich variety of birds like pheasants, monal pheasant, koklass, bearded vultures and golden eagles. In addition, there are several migratory birds. Bird lovers couldn’t ask for more.
Hemis National Park surprises visitors in many ways, one of which is the incredible height at which it is located. Not only is it the highest in the world, but it is also the largest park in South Asia. Unlike other national parks, it is marked by poor vegetation, and that which exists is mostly alpine and steppe. Some animals which are commonly spotted inside the park include shapu, bharal, wild sheep, snow leopards, ibex and goats. It is also noted for its rare species of birds, with the ones most commonly spotted ones being red mantled rosefinch, the black throated thrush, spotted flycatcher, great nose finch and robin acceptor.
Overa National Park is another famous national park in Jammu & Kashmir, which, although small, houses a rich variety of wildlife. There are several rare and endangered species to be found, including leopard, koklas, monal, snow cock, musk deer and hangul. The park endears itself to visitors with its spectacular landscape, which is characterised by grassy hills, valleys and incredible mountain landscapes.
The Kishtwar High Altitude National Park amazes visitors with the incredible diversity in its altitude, which ranges from 1700 meters to 4800 meters. That diversity is also reflected in its vegetation, which varies according to areas of high and low altitudes within the park. Besides the snow leopard, which is a prime attraction, the park is inhabited by other animals like wild boar, Indian muntjac, Himalayan tahr and hangul. Some of the bird species commonly spot here include griffon vulture, bearded vulture, paradise flycatcher and white cheeked bulbul.