WILD LIFE OF RAJOURI
Wild life of Rajouri is varied and in consonance with its varied climate and topography. As the mountains rise to about4600 meters in northeast of the district, we come across alpine regions where snowfall is generous during winter and snow stays up to April-May. Animals of alpine region are those who withstand these heights and rigorous of the climate. As we descend towards tree line, the temperate climate is experienced. Animals of these high mountains generally comedown to lower reaches during winter. Major area of the district from east to west and south to north has sub-tropical climate, there are pine forests, forests of broad leaved trees deciduate and non-deciduate, scrub forests, interspersed with grassland patches and agricultural fields. Sub-tropical region of the district is rich in animal life (within limits of mindless human interference).
The sub-tropical jungles of Rajouri are known to have leopard (Panthera Pardus), although the number has considerably divided during recent years.
The other carnivores of this group are jungle cats (Fetis-chans) and Felis bengalensis. Felis bengalensis, due to its panther-like fur coat had been the target of fur traders. Poachers have nearly killed every available individual for its fur. This cat has been declared a protected animal under the Wild Life Act, 1978.
Hogdeer, locally called "parha" is found in this district as also in adjoining district of Udhampur. Porcupine and wild Boar are also in plenty, in subtropical climate and, sometimes, damage the crops of the farmers. Macaca are found in these jungles in Rajouri division and are a perpetual headache to the farmers when the maize crops are ready. These monkeys are not killed for any purpose and so the farmers fight pitched battles with them to save their crops. Sometimes, these monkeys are on record to manhandle the humans who try to shoo them away from fields.
Mongoose, squirrel and hare are found all over the subtropical regions of Rajouri. These declared as vermin, are Jackal and Fox. These wild animals were known to damage the poultry of the farmers. But astonishingly, their numbers have dwindled.
Bats (Mierochiroptera and Megachiroptera) are found all over the district, barring temperate and alpine regions. There is variety of avian fauna in sub-tropical region. Peacock the national bird is the pride of the district. Other birds found in abundance are Thrushes, Bablers, Orioles, Bayas, Bee-eaters, Fly-catchers, Shrike, Tailar bird, Wood pecker, Cuckoo, Koel, Doves, Hawk, Shikra, Eagle, Brain feverbird (Papiha) owlet and Barn owl, king fishers and Egrets can be seen near water bodies. Flocks of Cattle egrets can be seen in open lands. Patridge and Quail are also found in open lands and scrul forests, Bulbul, Parrots, Myna, Hoopee, Pigeon, Sparrow, Crows, Drongo are the birds, which can be seen near human habitations. Jungles fowl is the main game bird of these forests. Kiter Buzard and vultures of different types are found allover.
Replilian fauna comprises of Lizards and Snakes. Varanus locally called Kas-Karoh is in abundance. Other common Lizards are Agama, Calotes and Hemidectles python is found in the subtropical climate of the district. Other snakes Cobra, Coral snake, Krait, Viper, (poisonous} and Natrix, Zemnis, Lycodon and Typhlops among non poisonous are also found all over.
Chelones are conspicuous by their absence in Rajouri. Frogs and Toads are found all over. The rivers of the district are replete with fish fauna. Trout, introduced in Budhal nallah has thrived well. Due to absence of industrial effluence, the rivers water is clean and thus fit for fish life. Monal and other pheasants are found in Darhal and Budhal areas where climate is temperate. Temperate regions have Black bear, in Budhal and Darhal area. It comes down when there is snowfall. Goral (wild goat) and Musk deer (Mosecus Moschferous) are also inhabitants of these very temperate regions. Both are under the threat of extensions in the area.
Another type of mammal is Marten. It is found at high altitudes of temperate regions of Budhal but also goes beyond tree line to heights with scanty vegetation. Reported from high reaches of Budhal, as also from Pir Panchal range, is snow (Leopard Panthera Unicia). Nothing much is known about its habits. It is an endangered species and protected under law. AS elsewhere,the pressure of human population on forests and open land is too much in Rajouri also. Forest cover and undisturbed open land areas are not sufficient for wildlife. Poachers play havoc with game animals. Amateur hunters also cause great damage out of ignorance perhaps. The result is that, most of the wild animals are facing the threat of extinction.
Snow leopard, Black bear, leopard, Goral, Hogdeer, Muskdeer, Jungle Cat (Fepis Bengalensis) Monal Pheasant, Partridge, Quail and Chakor will be extinct if protection is not provided to them. There is necessity of wildlife parks and preserves for these animals in Rajouri also.
Man kills wild animals for meat and fur. In order to fulfill the needs of meat and wool/fur, Rabbit farming has been introduced in the syllabus of Zoology at 3rd year of the Degree level in colleges. The techniques of the Rabbit farming are taught to undergraduates to start this gainful. However, no person, so for, has come forwarded to start it, as is done elsewhere in the country especially Himachal Pardesh. Other relevant parts of the syllabus to reduce the pressure of persecution on wildlife are poultry farming and fish farming. This is with a view not only to teach as part of syllabus for earning degree but also to popularize the idea of getting meat wool fur/pelt, chicken and fish from farms rather than from forests.