HWF has been involved in the conservation of the Deosai National Park (DNP) since 1993, having played an instrumental role in its designation as a protected area in 1992. The organization’s conservation programme was originally conceived to carry out a census of the area’s bear population and its characteristics, and to develop a management plan geared towards conserving both the species and its habitat. Since then, the HWF’s role has grown to facilitating park management and helping the bordering communities develop their social infrastructure.
During the period of its involvement with DNP, the HWF helped operate a seasonal research camp and two check posts regulating visitors’ access to the park, and sealing potential points of entry for poachers. More than a dozen people—both from within and outside the bordering communities—were trained as game watchers and field camp personnel.
It also supervised the process of park mapping, established a number of safe wildlife viewing points, and helped manage the development of basic, low-impact park infrastructure. In addition, the HWF helped establish several financial mechanisms for park management, including a system of park entry fees supplemented by a park management fund.
Although the HWF has been closely concerned with park management at DNP since 1993, it clearly advocates that long-term conservation efforts will require the involvement of local stakeholders including the Northern Areas Forestry, Parks and Wildlife Department (NAFD) and the communities settled along the periphery of the park.
To this end, the HWF updated and submitted a PC-1 document to the Ministry of Kashmir and Northern Areas in order to support its proposal that the NAFD be provided with the resources it needs to manage the park on its own—the PC-1 was approved in 2004 and funds for a five-year management period allocated. During the interim period, the HWF helped train NAFD staff (now Gilgit Baltistan Wildlife Department) as game watchers and field camp personnel to ensure a smoother transition of management.
Now that the Wildlife Department has taken over park management and administration, the Himalayan Wildlife has confined its role to assisting in community coordination, public information and awareness initiatives, and research and planning. An important part of the organization’s recent work includes the consolidation of buffer zones in community areas around DNP, and the creation of regional corridors allowing the movement of wildlife from Deosai to peripheral valleys in Kashmir—another area in which the HWF is involved. Additional work has included studies and management related to increasing pressures in the park including the Gujjar Bakarwal.
The intial phase of the program helped recover the population from 19 in 1993
to 43 bears in 2006.