Trees for Hanguls™
Dachigam National Park, Kashmir, India
Project PurposeTrees for Forests™ & Wildlife
Plant Now Location
The plantation is implemented in Pampore region, in the periphery of Dachigam National Park, Kashmir on Forest Department land.
About the Project
Amidst the breathtaking landscapes of Jammu and Kashmir, a pressing ecological disaster is unfolding as the fate of the Kashmir Red Deer, also known as Hangul (Cervus hanglu hanglu) hangs in the balance. These elegant and elusive creatures with their sleek, russet coat and impressive antlers are the only surviving sub-species of the European red deer in Asia, making it an integral part of the region’s biodiversity. Today the Hangul deer is classified as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List, underscoring the urgent need for action.
In a study on the distribution and relative abundance of Hanguls published in the Spanish zoological journal, Galemys, researchers of the Wildlife Institute of India, Charoo, Sharma and Sathyakumar pointed out that, “The Kashmir Red deer or Hangul has had a restricted distribution that was confined to the mountainous areas of Kashmir valley particularly in Dachigam NP and adjoining protected areas. A gradual decline in Hangul population during the last 3-4 decades in Dachigam NP and adjoining areas has been correlated to various factors such as poaching and habitat degradation.” They further highlight the damaging effects of human activities. The article counts the presence of grazers, their sheep dogs, and local villages that depend on the area, specifically in Lower Dachigam, for resources as disturbances that have reduced the habitat range and quality for the Hanguls. This, according to them, is a matter of serious concern “as this is the only area currently available for Hangul for use in all seasons.”
The Trees for Hanguls™ project, situated at Pampore, in the periphery of the Dachigam National Park, fulfills multiple objectives. Through the tree plantation activities, we are actively restoring the habitat for the Hanguls. As the trees mature, they provide invaluable ecological benefits such as carbon sequestration, an adequate water supply and a healthy source of nutrition for the Hanguls. Planting trees will also help to meet the needs of local communities who depend on forest resources. Additionally, through the Trees for Hanguls™ project, we also aim to raise awareness of the need to conserve the Hangul population. This sensitization program lays the foundation for lasting and meaningful change.
A study on the Hangul’s habitat use patterns and food habits in the Ethology, Ecology and Evolution journal found that the Hangul is a mixed feeder (engaging in both browsing and grazing) with a preference for browse in almost all seasons. Nonetheless, the evidence from the direct feeding observation suggests that the Hanguls have a preference for browse and bark-stripped woody species such as Kail (Pinus wallichiana).
When selecting the species for the Trees for Hanguls™ project, our focus has been on fulfilling the needs of the Hanguls while simultaneously benefiting the surrounding community. Based on the landscape-level conservation planning model, we are planting a mix of coniferous and broadleaf species. Kail (Pinus wallichiana) and Apricot (Prunus armeniaca) serve as a valuable food source for the Hanguls.
Cypress (Cupressus torulosa) and Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara) provide ample shade and shelter. The inclusion of Apple (Malus pumila/domestica), Pear (Pyrus communis L.), Quince (Cydonia oblonga) and Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) offer various benefits to the villagers around the planting site.
By aligning ecological restoration with social impact, the Trees for Hanguls™ project presents a win-win scenario for all. The project does not only strive to safeguard the Hanguls but also brings tremendous socio-economic benefits to the surrounding communities.
Our projects generate employment opportunities that result in improving livelihoods; by offering meaningful and fair employment, this initiative can help reverse the trend of migration. Moreover, at a broader, social level, the project has the potential to foster community engagement and promote sustainable practices.
While research on the elusive Hangul species remains limited, the general consensus among experts is that human activities are one of the major reasons for the decline in their population. Factors such as rising pollution, poaching, land use and habitat fragmentation have had an adverse effect on the ecosystem. Planting trees is an effective measure to combat these threats because of their ability to absorb carbon, improve air quality, provide shelter and screen and recharge groundwater.
The Trees for Hangul™ project recognizes that wildlife protection can be a catalyst to social well-being. Through our holistic approach, we are able to pursue our commitment to restore ecosystems, protect wildlife and build a legacy of harmony and balance.
 Charoo, S. A., Sharma, L. K., & Sathyakumar, S. (2010). Distribution and relative abundance of Kashmir Red Deer or Hangul (Cervus elaphus hanglu) at Dachigam National Park, Kashmir, India, Galemys: Boletin informativo de la Sociedad Espanola Para la conservacion y estudio de los mamiferos, 22(1), 171-184.
 K. Ahmad, Q. Qureshi, G. Agoramoorthy & P. Nigam (2016). Habitat use patterns and food habits of the Kashmir red deer or Hangul (Cervus elaphus hanglu) in Dachigam National Park, Kashmir, India, Ethology Ecology & Evolution, 28:1, 85-101.
 Mukherjee et al., (2021). Landscape-level habitat management plan through geometric reserve design for critically endangered Hangul (Cervus hanglu hanglu), Science of The Total Environment, Vol-777, 146031.