Introduction

Overa- Aru harbours a good faunal assemblage. It is home of many common, rare and endangered faunal species. Some important species present there include the hangul (Cervus hangulu), musk deer (Moschus cupreus), serow (Capricornis sumatraesis), Rhesus macaque (Macaca mulata), Kashmir grey langur (Semnopithecus ajax), leopard (Panthera pardus) and the leopard cat (Felis bengalensis). The rare and endangered hangul deer is one of the prime animals of this reserve though their numbers are low. Other animal species found in the sanctuary include red fox (Vulpus vulpes) and Himalayan black bear (Ursus thibetanus). The brown bear (Ursus arctos) also shares this divine terrain and may make an unexpected appearance. The leopard is a prominent carnivore in Overa-Aru.

Musk Deer

Moschus cupreus

Musk deer (Moschus spp.) is a primitive deer-like ruminant belonging to the family Moschidae and inhabits the forested and alpine scrub habitats of mountains in Asia.  Kashmir musk deer is endemic to Kashmir region of Jammu and Kashmir State and is Endangered. They mainly occur along the northern bank of Jhelum River. They measure about 50 cm at the shoulder, and weigh about 13–15 kg. Musk deer have long pointed central hooves and enlarged lateral hooves known as dew claws that provide a firm grip on steep ground, even on slanting tree trunks that they climb for forage, and that minimise sinking in soft snow.

Hangul

Cervus hanglu

The Kashmir Red deer or Hangul (Cervus hanglu) now identified as a separate species is categorised as critically endangered by IUCN.Today, the only viable population of Hangul is restricted to Dachigam NP and adjoining protected areas. Hangul is placed under schedule-I in the Jammu and Kashmir State Wildlife Protection Act, 1978 and in the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

Leopard

Panthera pardus

Leopard (Panthera pardus) is the most widely distributed of all the wild cats in the world. The geographic distribution of leopard extends throughout Africa, central Asia, south-east Asia and north Amur valley in Russia. Leopard is found throughout the Indian sub-continent with the exception of deserts and the sundarban mangroves.

Black Bear

Ursus thibetanus

Out of the total eight species of bears in the world four species of bears are found in India, the Sloth bear (Melursus ursinus), the Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus), Himalayan brown bear (Ursus aractus), and the Sun bear (Helarctos malayanus). Asiatic black bear also known as the moon bear and the white-chested bear, is a medium-sized bear species native to Asia. The status of black bear in the state of Jammu and Kashmir has been reported as ‘fairly common’.