Jammu: Suresh Kumar Gupta, Chief Wildlife Officer J&K today officially opened the opening of the Jasrota Wildlife Hiking Route in the Kathua District.
The Jasrota Hiking Route is one of eighteen hiking routes identified and mapped by the Department of Wildlife Protection to promote ecotourism in wildlife areas.
The identified hiking route passes through various wildlife protected areas of Jammu and Kashmir, showcasing the pristine natural beauty of these protected areas to visitors. Speaking on the occasion, the head of wildlife protection informed that the department aims to promote guided tours with advance reservation through online registration so that visitors can enjoy our natural heritage without hassle. . He also mentioned that the activity will be promoted in collaboration with the Tourism Department, development authorities and tour operators.
He also highlighted the growing importance of ecotourism, which not only showcases forest ecology and biodiversity, but also stimulates the local economy and links sustainable development with conservation. It is relevant to mention that the Jasrota Wildlife Sanctuary has a very high level of species diversity, including critically endangered and threatened species like the Indian Pangolin, African Vulture, Steppe Eagle and Egyptian vulture and other vulnerable / threatened Himalayan vultures, Alexandrine parakeets. Other major attractions on the trek route are darshan at the local Kali Veer Mandir, visit to Rani Talab and Jasrota Palace, all of which are monuments protected by the Archaeological Survey of India. Jammu’s other major ecotourism destinations, such as Gharana Wetland Conservation Reserve and Surinsar-Mansar Wetlands, are expected to attract large numbers of local and external visitors due to the arrival of migratory birds from Central Asia who arrive in their thousands as part of their winter habitat.
Dr MK Kumar, Regional Director of Wildlife, Jammu informed that the department has already organized such events at Nandani Wildlife Sanctuary and Sudhmahadev Conservation Reserve. He also mentioned that more such programs will be organized so that participants, especially young people and students, appreciate the wildlife resources of Jammu and Kashmir. The program aims to raise awareness of wildlife conservation in addition to promoting ecotourism.
In the trekking program, more than 100 nature enthusiasts participated. The trekking started at 9:00 a.m. Participants were college / university students, forestry interns, local youth and members of the Panchayat. The hikers were divided into groups of 20 to 25 people and each group was given two officials. The groups were led through the 4 mile hike in a staggered fashion following appropriate behavior for COVID. Intermittently, at different points of ecological importance, hikers were informed about various aspects of the vegetation, local ecology and associated biodiversity. The entire trek was completed in 3 hours and the teams returned to the campsite at the main entrance to the Jasrota Wildlife Sanctuary.
The program was led and coordinated by Vijay Kumar, Wildlife Warden, Kathua. Hikers appreciated the Department of Wildlife’s initiative and looked forward to more such events in the future.